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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE RICH POOR MAN & THE POOR RICH MAN

Proverb 13:7 There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.

Have you ever known someone that was determined to become "successful" in life? They usually work long hours, possibly two jobs as well as on weekends. Their life centers around the accumulation of wealth. As soon as the pay check is received, it is hurried to the bank, deposited and immediately starts accruing interest. Or it is invested in stocks or bonds in anticipation of an even higher return. Off hours are spent pouring over the financial returns of companies that are possible future investments, or studying stock market trends that signal buy or sell conditions that would maximize their profits.

I know this person. I've observed him often. He has all his assets, investments, etc. computerized. At any moment, he can print out his net worth and a projected business forecast. When things are on a down turn, he is obsessed with finding ways to shift his investments in order to "beat" the market. When things are on an up trend, he is never satisfied with his investment returns, even if substantial. He is always looking for the formula or the "insider" tip that will allow him to out perform the market "experts". Yet, as successful as this person is, he is most miserable. There is no way that he will ever be satisfied with his wealth regardless of its size. He will always be wanting to obtain more, more, and more; yet in the rewards of life, this man has nothing!

On the other hand, have you ever known someone that wants to become successful in life, goes to work every day, and earns a decent living from his vocation or his business? This person keeps his family sheltered, fed and clothed. He sacrifices things that he would like to have himself in order to give the best possible education to his children. He drives the old automobile, so his wife and children can drive the better one. He has one suit that he wears to church and on any other "formal" occasion. He also has one pair of dress shoes, but, oh, how he keeps them shined. Yet, as little as he has to call his own, he is happy, content, and his attitude is always positive. He can't wait until next payday, so he can buy something for his wife or children that they have been wanting. He takes pride in skipping his lunch so he can give a meal to a homeless person that he always seeks out once or twice a week. He will always be wanting to give more, more, more; yet this man has everything and is rewarded daily!

The lesson text is paradoxical in nature. It is as if the greedy person ends up a pauper, while the generous person is wealthy. This theme is found throughout the Bible. Here is another proverb that parallels the lesson text. There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty (Prov. 11:24 NKJV). This proverb is followed by one that also has a similar lesson. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself. The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will be on the head who sells it (Prov. 11:25-26 NKJV).

In summary, let us consider the text found in Matthew 6:19-21 that tells each of us where our priorities should be regarding wealth. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. These verses do not mean one is not to have material wealth. As a matter of fact, we have the obligation to use our talents to their fullest to earn wealth. These verses, however, do condemn wealth that is selfishly misused.

From your labor, you can accumulate treasures on earth or treasures in heaven. Earthly treasures have no lasting benefit. The verses quoted say they will rust, be moth eaten, or possibly stolen. At death, earthly treasures will be left behind. There is only one way for you to preserve your wealth. That is to invest it in heavenly treasure. Wealth used in doing good, charitable deeds for others that are in need, is never wasted - it becomes a treasure in heaven. Having all the wealth in the world and keeping it for yourself, you will become a Rich Poor Man. The only way to save your wealth eternally is to give it away to those in need. In so doing, you will become a Poor Rich Man.