Proverbs 22:4 – The reward for humility and fear of the LORD... - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Biblical Wisdom
April 1, 2019

Proverbs 22:4 – The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life.

by Dr. Bill Edgar, former chair of the Geneva College Board of Trustees, former Geneva College President and longtime pastor in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPNCA)

Pride goes before destruction. In an exaltation of power and freedom, Icarus flew so high that the sun melted the wax holding feathers on his wings, and he crashed into the sea and drowned. Eve and Adam wanted to be like God, and ended up mortal, expelled from the Garden. Nebuchadnezzar boasted, “Is not this great Babylon which I have built (Daniel 4:30)?” until God deprived him of his wits.

Pride comes naturally to the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve, but “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).” Pride does not end in riches and honor and life. Humility requires God’s grace, given often through rebukes, setbacks, God’s Word, parents, and teachers, until we learn that God is God, and we are not, and that other people deserve the same love and consideration we do. The humble person thinks honestly about himself, not too highly, nor falsely denying what God has given: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).”

God commands us to cultivate humility. “Humble yourselves (I Peter 5:6, James 4:10),” before God by accepting His Word and Providence without grumbling, and before other people by putting their interests above your own (Philippians 2:1-5). Coupled with humility is the fear of the Lord. The proud forget God, do not call on Him for help and forgiveness, and refuse to give Him thanks. The humble know they rely on Him even for breath itself.

The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is “riches and honor and life,” the things God promised Abraham when He called him, and Solomon after he asked for wisdom. It’s what Jesus promised Peter, who asked Him what he would get for having left everything to follow Him:

Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life (Mark 10:29-30).

There are great rewards in this life for humility and fear of the Lord. But because the world is proud and resists God, the rewards come “with persecutions” -- sometimes job loss, sometimes ruined reputation, sometimes even death. No follower of Jesus should ever believe that He promises a life of uninterrupted success resulting in “riches and honor and life,” such as Job had before God allowed Satan to take them away. Our true riches are stored up for us in the age to come, when God gives the humble eternal life.

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash