Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 22:4
"The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor, and life"
We must never forget that there is a reward for living the way that God wants us to live. It pays to be righteous. We can often feel that the rewards and the payoff all go to the wicked, but nothing is further from the truth. They get the momentary pleasure of sin and the deep consequences of sin. We receive the continual feast of righteousness.
I believe that we too often do not speak enough about the way of joy in the Christian life. That what we have when we follow God's principles – they far outweigh what the world has, and we have no sorrow mixed in with it.
The ability to see your strengths and weaknesses with clarity. The willingness to let others shine and promote others. The ability to submit, to be a part of a bigger plan. These are elements within humility. To not have to be first and foremost. To not believe that you are the center of the universe or the most important person. It means to understand that you are a part, a piece of a much larger whole; an important part but not the whole. It means to willingly submit to God's plan and God's boundaries. God can use the humble vessel. He pours His grace through them. He, however, opposes the proud – those who do not acknowledge their personal dependence upon God and others. None of us are indispensable. God alone is God and we are not.
I believe that it is helpful to list and rehearse regularly those things that we need God to do for us and be for us. If that list is less than fifteen for any given day, we are probably too proud for God to pour His power through us. How do you need God to work in your life? What do you need Him to do? What do you need Him to continue to do?
and the fear of the Lord
The fear of the Lord is the realization that walking contrary to the Almighty is foolish and fraught with danger. The fear of the Lord is being awestruck with the wonder and majesty of the Supreme Being. The fear of the Lord is offering worship to the Almighty and being caught in the power of His love and presence.
We do not speak enough about the fear of the Lord these days. The true believer is truly afraid to walk outside of the boundaries that God has fixed, knowing that God will bring consequences for each action. The true believer fears not fulfilling the directions of the Holy Spirit. He knows that God does not play games with His servants. He also knows that God can pass the blessing of obedience on to others if the servant is not ready to obey.
Both of these two conditions are attitudes of the mind and ways of thinking. If we are correct in our attitudes of the mind and the way we think, then our actions will be fine.
These riches – which are the rewards of living God's way of life and thinking God's way about each choice – can be mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and financial. It is only our impoverished, naturalistic worldview that wants to see these as monetary. Some of the greatest riches that can come to a person are those that are deeply emotional and spiritual; those that satisfy in the depth of your being in ways that mere piles of money and possessions can never satisfy.
God wants to pile up true riches in your life. He can only give them to you at the pace that you can handle them and not be destroyed by them. If you love Him, your pile of relational, emotional, spiritual, and monetary resources may accumulate slower because of His love for you and your inability to handle more without being destroyed by them.
The Hebrew word is kobed which means great, honor, or weighty. The word literally means to be heavy or weighty and easily becomes the meaning of a great or weighty person. Therefore, honor is the weight or value of your life or being. When you follow God's prescription for a life worth living, you get something much more valuable than fame. You get value, honor, respect. It is the hidden moments of service that allow us to demonstrate whether God can invest high levels of value upon us. Everyone wants respect and admiration and value, but God allows it to rest upon those who walk with humility and a deep understanding of the Awesomeness of God.
What is interesting in our culture is that we are often trying to gain a small piece of honor in a quick way. We want to be noticed and have people think that we are important. We want fame or popularity or the place of pride. God is going after something much deeper and more significant. He says that He will reward you with honor, not the passing fancy of fame. Our imitation substitutes for honor come with snares and thorns.
God calls some to the martyr’s life and that is a great privilege to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake – even giving one’s life. But the normal Christian life is the ability to exercise your vitality throughout your years and to not grow bitter in a pool of sorrow and guilt. As the following definition points out: Life is important; sin robs us of that life.
Life is the ability to exercise all one’s vital power to the fullest; death is the opposite.
How often I have watched as those who have lived a life of carousing and wickedness cannot exercise their vital power to its fullest because they have permanently damaged their own life or a critical relationship in their life.
Each one of the next three proverbs (Proverbs 22:5,6,7) is about the long view of life. The long-term reward of humility and fearing the Lord is riches, honor, and life. The long-term view of the perverse and wicked is that they have an increasing amount of thorns and snares in their life. And the long-term view of raising children is that if you train your children to live right and consistent with whom they are, then they will not move away from it when they are older.