Poverty Can Be Caused by Worthless Pursuits

Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.

A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished (Prov. 28:19-20)

In this text, hard work is better than following worthless pursuits. The word, “worthless” (Heb. req), means, “empty, vain,” or “worthless goals.” (TWOT) In v. 20, these worthless pursuits are get-rich-quick pursuits. “Whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished” (v. 20).

Why would one hasten to be rich? The answer is greed. In v. 19, because he is greedy, he pursues worthless goals. In v. 21, because he is greedy, he accepts bribes. In v. 23, because he is greedy, he flatters rich people. In v. 24, because he is greedy, he robs his parents. In v. 25, because he is greedy, he causes trouble.

Thus, Proverbs condemns the greedy desire to get-rich-quick. Instead, it urges hard work, financial wisdom, and generosity.

That is why we are against gambling. Filipinos are known for gambling. Gambling is embedded in our culture. We have cock-fight gambling even in poor towns. We have the lotto and the casino. I grew up with gambling parents. I remember going to a cock-fight with my dad when I was small. There were four mahjong tables every Saturday in our home.

But gambling of any kind feeds the desire to get rich quick–the desire for easy money. It contradicts the divine will to work hard. It is an empty, worthless pursuit. It is also a waste of money. You might win some, but you will lose more.

However, if you work hard, you will become productive. “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread” (v. 19). If you produce something, you will become prosperous.

We find the same emphasis in v. 20—“A faithful man will abound with blessings.” To be faithful is to be devoted to your duty. To be devoted to your duty is to receive blessings. You will become prosperous.

But if you don’t work and produce, you will become poor. If you pursue worthless goals, poverty will knock at your door. If you are not faithful in your duty, poverty will call on you.

Thus, hard work is the answer to prosperity. But the pursuit of empty goals is the key to poverty.

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