"feed me with food convenient for me"
“Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: lest I deny thee, and say, Who is Yahweh? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” (Proverbs 30:8)
In the materialistic age in which we sojourn, we see all around us both men and women striving for greater things, seeking better work conditions, better pay, a better position in society. And even for Christ’s brethren, there is immense pressure for them to “succeed” in the things of this life – a success which is measured purely in terms of social advantages, and material possessions. Yet when measured against the standards of Divine Wisdom, this “success” proves to be nothing short of failure. “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15) was the exhortation of the Lord Jesus, introducing his parable of the man seeking to build bigger and better barns in which to store his accumulation of wealth. This man, in terms of the base standards of the world had made a success of life. He became rich because of the productivity of his labour, and the fruitfulness of the ground he owned. But did he ever stop to think of why his land yielded it’s fruits in such abundance? Did he ever reflect upon the fact that “the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God” (Heb 6:7)? Job did, and concluded: “If I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because my hand had gotten much … this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above” (Job 31:25-28).
But in contrast to Job, the rich man, having more food than was sufficient for him, did deny the God which is above, for trusting in his own labour, he seemingly gave little thought to the One who so greatly blessed the land upon which he worked. Thus, he was a failure: “God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20, cp Mat 16:26). This, then is the exhortation of Scripture: “labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom” (Prov 23:4). Rather than to trust in our own wisdom and labour to obtain the empty riches of this evil world, we must seek the wisdom of God, for therein lies true riches – yea, riches which can sustain us beyond the grave, to the time of resurrection at the Return of our Lord. “How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding rather than to be chosen than silver” (Prov 16:16) “for wisdom is better than rubies; and all things that may be desired are not to be compared with it. I wisdom dwell with prudence … blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of Yahweh” (Prov 8:35). But although riches are not to be sought after; neither is there any virtue in poverty. There are those who suppose that there is righteousness in becoming poor for poverty’s sake, and so give up all to live on the goodwill of others. But there can be no virtue in making ourselves burdensome to others, or even worse, looking to the state as a provider. Indeed, scripturally, poverty is associated with shame: “Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured” (Prov 13:18). There is no intrinsic virtue to poverty, for it merely cultivates covetousness, and in many cases, theft to obtain that which is desired, yet beyond lawful means to obtain.
But even this is very different to the spirit of self-sacrifice; becoming poor for the sake of providing some benefit to others can be a good and honourable thing – indeed we have the supreme example of this in our Lord Jesus, “though he were rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2Cor 8:9) – and consider also the Lord’s commendation of the widow who cast in her last mite. In her case, righteousness was not in her poverty, but in the fact that out of the depths of that poverty, she gave her all to the service of her God. And in the greater case of our Lord Jesus, truly he literally gave his all, even his own life, to provide better riches for those who would trust in him.