Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. Proverbs 30:7-9
The Proverbs are filled with truisms about wealth, poverty, work and sloth. One might conclude that money is an obsession to the writers. If so, it is only because wealth is an obsession for people.
Here the Proverbs express a valid attitude toward money. It is not the only legitimate attitude, but truly captures the dangers of extremes with regard to financial resources and wealth. These extremes play upon man’s natural temptations that accompany both abundance and need.
With abundance the temptation is to forget God. Self-reliance, self-congratulation, self-worth are the inherent partners of financial success. If left unchecked, they will cause the one who attains is to suppose that it is his own strength, labor, intelligence that gained it for him. Pride, greed and envy are sure dangers, as well.
With dire need the temptation is to curse God. Coveting, grumbling, complaining attend this condition. Oddly, pride can compel our behaviors, because we think that we deserve better than the lot God has given us. Because we think we are entitled to better, we breach the command of God and either think wrongly about our neighbor’s relative better position (covet) or take action to “level the playing field” (steal).
Is being wealthy inherently sinful? No. Is being poor inherently sinful? No. Neither is better than the other, but the former thinks the latter inferior; the latter thinks the former undeserving.
One seeking to follow Christ faithfully should be very cautious about his attitudes toward his own financial condition, as well as his attitudes toward that of others.