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Wisdom and Riches

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Proverbs belongs to that segment of the Old Testament designated as "wisdom literature." Such proverbial teaching represents one of the most ancient forms of instruction. The wisdom literature of Israel was the chief storehouse of moral and practical instruction for the Jews. It guided the head of state as well as the head of the home. It embodied the difference between right and wrong, righteousness and unrighteousness. But most of all, Israel's wisdom literature taught the Jews how to live before Jehovah. It contrasted the wisdom of the world, a wisdom of possessions, with the wisdom of God, a wisdom of piety.

Proverbs teaches us that all who would live godly must seek the wisdom of God and forsake the wisdom of the world. To seek divine wisdom, therefore, is to seek to know God better and to possess less. Wisdom is God; and speaking as wisdom, God says, "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me" (Proverbs 8:17). God is to be sought early in life and early in each day of life. When we show Him we love Him in this way, He shows us He loves us by filling our day with His wisdom.

Seeking the wisdom of God and the God of wisdom does not necessarily mean we will be paupers on this earth. God says, "Riches and honor are with me; yea durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver" (Proverbs 8:18-19). The revenue paid by seeking this world's wealth is temporal gain and a frequent deterrent to godliness. The revenue gained by seeking divine wisdom is eternal gain and an everlasting aid to godliness. Therefore, the truly wise person in this world will seek God's wisdom instead of the world's wealth. But should God allow us to have both, our attitude toward our possessions will be, "Every man to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God" (Ecclesiastes 5:19).

An English nobleman once visited Josiah Wedgwood to see how he made his legendary china and pottery. A young apprentice was instructed to give the nobleman a tour of the factory. The nobleman didn't believe in God and was sacrilegious and foul-mouthed, and he consistently ridiculed the Bible during the tour. At first the young apprentice was shocked, but after awhile he began to laugh when the man made his cynical remarks. Josiah Wedgwood was greatly disturbed by this, especially when he saw how his young apprentice was being influenced by this wealthy nobleman. Later the atheist asked if he could purchase a particularly expensive vase. As he handed it to the nobleman, Wedgwood deliberately let it crash to the floor. With a vile oath the nobleman angrily said, "That's the one I really wanted and now it's shattered by your carelessness." Josiah Wedgwood replied, "Sir, there are things more precious than any vase things that can never be restored once they are ruined. I can make another vase, but you can never give back to my helper the pure heart you've defiled by your vile language and sacrilegious talk!"

The nobleman was an example of a man who did not seek the Lord early but sought riches all the day. Josiah Wedgwood is a fine example of a man who early sought the Lord and recognized that his wealth was a gift from God. God never intended that we should not have riches; He only intended that riches should not have us. It is vitally important for Christians who possess wealth not to be possessed by it. Seek the wisdom of the Lord early in the day, before earning the wealth of the world. Then use that wealth in a way which will bring eternal reward.

MORNING HYMN I take, O cross, thy shadow For my abiding place I ask no other sunshine than The sunshine of His face Content to let the world go by, To know no gain nor loss, My sinful self my only shame, My glory all the cross.

Devotional is used with permission from the author. It may be used solely for personal, noncommercial, and informational purposes. Republication or redistribution of this devotional is prohibited.

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