Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 16:8
"Better is a little with righteousness than great income with injustice"
This proverb is so incredibly needed in our day. Our present culture has the belief that money is the answer to all problems; that “if I just could have unlimited amounts of money everything would be okay.” This is not true. It is factually and evidentially not true. Just yesterday I heard about a 100+ million dollar lottery winner whose wife said, "I should have just torn up the winning ticket. It has destroyed our lives."
Great wealth can destroy life if it is not accompanied by righteousness and relationships. The goal of life is not amassing great wealth. The goal of life is amassing great relationships: God and others.
This specific proverb wants to emphasize that if you are presented with a choice between making a lot of money and all you have to do is shade the truth or the law just a little, choose to avoid the money so that you can live with a clean conscience. It is hard to pass up what looks like a lot of money when it is offered, but it is in these issues that it is better to learn from God ahead of time rather than know this information by experience.
The word translated injustice is really two words in the Hebrew "no justice." It is the Hebrew word lo mispat.
This proverb is a cost-benefit analysis on the merits of shading what is right to gain great wealth. Solomon's assessment (God's also which is why He allowed him to put it in the Scriptures) is that the cost is too high. If it takes injustice to gain great wealth, then it is not worth it.
The Septuagint does not translate the word injustice but instead it translates the word no peace. In other words, if you have to disrupt the harmony in your life and in society and create factions, war, disharmony, and illegality to gain great wealth, then pass on the wealth.
This is a hard choice to make for many young people, but it is an essential one. Right now in our society we are having too many young people who are making the wrong choice in this equation and the whole of society is becoming unjust because of their choices. Turn away from these money-making schemes – the personal peace, the clean conscience, and the harmonious relationships are better. Trust God on this one.
On a macro or societal level, this proverb also applies. The idea is that if in order to create great wealth you have to go beyond the beneficial moral boundaries of God, you have moved the society in which you live towards anarchy, in which people do whatever they want as long as it profits them. There is no way that a group of people can dwell together in harmony and peace if everyone – or even a few – consistently bend the rules for their own profit. There will always be people who will bear the brunt of this injustice. Eventually that anarchy will touch you.