“Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of God.” Proverbs 30: 8 – 9
I started reading the book, Neither Poverty Nor Riches, subtitled, A biblical theology of possessions, written by Craig L. Blomberg. A new testament scholar and a good friend, Dr. Gary Hoag, gave it to me when he made a “return trip” to the Philippines, keeping his promise. He came to facilitate seminars for ministry leaders, pastors and board members of various churches and Christ-centered organizations in Manila, Bacolod and Davao. The book is required reading for the course, Faith and Finance, an upcoming on-line course for MBA students of Asian Theological Seminary (ATS) that he himself designed. He will be the “professor of record” for ATS and he invited me to become the “tutor of record” for the on-line course. I agreed so I needed to study in advance the required reading materials.
I have completed reading the first chapter, The Old Testament and material possessions: the historical books, and did not know that the title of the book was taken from Proverbs which is the opening quote above. I learned this only when I visited yesterday with Ruth Callanta, founder and president of Center for Community Transformation Group of Ministries, an organized Christian response against poverty in the Philippines.
I told her that I was reading the book, Neither Poverty Nor Riches by Craig Blomberg, and learned how Nehemiah helped and protected the poor during the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. She said that the title was taken from the book of Proverbs which was what her grandfather had thought them. As soon as I got back from our visit with her, I searched the phrase, Neither Poverty Nor Riches, on my bible (thanks to my Android phone!) and got to the very wise counsel in Proverbs I quoted above.
No wonder then that Jesus began His ministry preaching in Nazareth where he had been brought up and on a Sabbath day proclaimed, “The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.” (Luke 4:18).
On the Sermon on the Mount, He began to teach His disciples, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3). I learned and understood that the “poor in spirit” when applied in the world of business meant those who think much of God and others, and little of themselves.
And when He taught His disciples how to pray He quoted from Proverbs 30:8, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11).
Jesus has been telling his disciples and the Jews all along that the kingdom of heaven has come here on earth and He has inaugurated that kingdom upon His coming, living with us, dying for us on the cross and rising again on that first Easter Sunday!
And then He commissioned His disciples (and all of us!), “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19 – 20)
We need to make the choice now to obey everything He has commanded His disciples and what we learned from them through the ancient and not so ancient Scriptures.
The verse that precedes Proverbs 30: 8 – 9 advises us that the wise choice is to ask of God two things before we die: “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.” To keep falsehood and lies away from us is to be with Jesus and to follow Him and deny and take up our cross daily. The choice is yours to make!