Thursday, December 4, 2014

Seeing Christ in the Proverbs: 13:7-8

Proverbs 13:7-8

7 One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
8 The ransom of a man's life is his wealth,
but a poor man hears no threat.

These two proverbs are observational, but point to a Christological reality beyond the observations they make. Their observations ought to lift our minds from earth to heaven.

Verse 7 describes the kind of thing we sometimes read about in the newspapers. A seemingly poor widow dies, and it is found that she was worth millions of dollars. Or the reverse, a man is seemingly rich, enjoying an extravagantly wealthy lifestyle, but all for the purpose of conning rich people out of their money. The proverb points to the fact that things are not always as they seem.

There was no pretending with Jesus, but the poverty of his incarnation belied his great wealth. Though he describes himself through David as poor and needy, and through Matthew as gentle and humble in heart, he was at the same time the eternal Son of God, who possessed all authority over heaven and earth. Jesus became poor for our sake, so that in him we might become rich. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

In Christ, we too are poor in spirit. Like little infants, we recognize our spiritual need that only the heavenly Father can meet. But despite our spiritual poverty, joined to Christ we are rich. We have spiritual wealth unavailable to those outside of Christ, things like forgiveness, adoption and eternal life. All of this is in contrast to those who have material wealth, but lack the true wealth of spiritual riches in Christ.

Ultimately, true wealth is found only in Christ, and this point is driven home in verse 8. While the rich are able to find the funds to answer a ransom demand, the poor are free from the threat of such a demand, since no kidnapper would choose to kidnap a son or daughter from a poor family.  Lifted to a spiritual level, this proverb shows the value of knowing Christ, for he alone can pay to God the price to deliver us from hell and damnation. He alone died to pay the debt/ransom we could not pay ourselves. Jesus says of himself in Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Even the rich do not have the wealth to get themselves out of hell! Money and riches are worthless to pay the price of our sin. Only Jesus has the spiritual wealth to free us from God's judgment. He paid this price through his death on the cross for those who come to him by faith. Thus, the poor in Christ are free from the threat of hell, and have greater wealth than the rich of this world, who will not be able to avoid hell though they are rich.

Things are not always as they seem. If you think you are rich, but do not know Christ, then you are truly poor and headed for hell. But if you know Christ, then you are truly rich, because Jesus died and rose to lift you to the riches of heavenly fellowship, which can be enjoyed now and throughout eternity.
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