Today's entertainment line-ups often leave much to be desired. With everything from the zombie apocalypse to the walking dead among us, those seeking nightly entertainment can have their filled with all kinds of questionable stuff. Don't get me wrong - I like a good movie for a day of relaxing or just to pass a little time. The stuff we have to choose from these days leaves much to be desired, though. I find myself gravitating back to the oldies - for though they may lack the same "pizzazz" of the present dramas, they at least don't leave me with this sick feeling someone is going to suck my blood or brains out of me in my sleep! Our "appetites" have changed over the years, haven't they? The fun-loving movies made by such stars as Doris Day, Bob Hope, and Lucille Ball just seem to be gone. In fact, if a few churches across America and Canada weren't making some movies, there wouldn't be much wholesome to go to! This change in appetite goes way beyond the movie and TV screen, though. We have experienced an "appetite-shift" in many of our values ranging from how we make our money to what we think is acceptable behavior in our classrooms and workplaces. Back in the day, parents worked hard to teach something we refer to as "values" to their kids - something society looked up to and rewarded. Today, rather than reinforcing and encouraging these values, much of society is out there "undoing" them. In turn, we have people trying to pursue immortality with little to no foundation upon which to build!
Ill-gotten gain gets you nowhere; an honest life is immortal. God won’t starve an honest soul, but he frustrates the appetites of the wicked. (Proverbs 10:3)
Proverbs is rich with all manner of advice on relationship, right conduct, values, and the like. We only need to bite off small chunks of a chapter to find life-lessons relating to the values God wants "taught into" the lives of his kids. He is a faithful parent - desiring to create a solid foundation in our lives through the lessons he teaches - even when society might work overtime to tear those same values down. Our part is to embrace the teaching, allow these values to guide our actions, and then see how God "backs us up" when we live out those values. If society works to tear us down, and we are living out the values God teaches, he will be there to back us up!
Our passage today deals with things we gain in any "unjust" manner. Whether it be wealth or fame, if we gain it in an unjust manner, God will oppose it. Maybe I better define "unjust" a little because it could mean different things to each of us. First, it is anything which is unfair - like when a merchant uses a little inaccuracy on the scales to give him more profit. That 1/10th of a pound will eventually add up down the road and he will end up collecting more than his fair share of "ill-gotten gain". Second, it is any action which is dishonest - if the truth is not being sought or "sold", it is considered unjust.
No amount of "ill-gotten" gain will benefit one whose heart is wicked. This is the purpose of this passage - we cannot expect to get good things when the heart pursuing those things is desperately wicked to the core. Maybe this is why I find it so hard to think we can put such wickedness in our hearts by what it is entertainment offers us today and then expect to see beauty and holiness coming out of our lives! Even when "good" seems to come to those whose main purpose is to gain for themselves at the expense of another, it won't last long because this "goodness" is deteriorating wealth!
On the other hand, we see what the one who deals "justly" gains will be further blessed by God - maybe not in ways others see or appreciate in a physical or immediately apparent sense - but at least in a spiritual and eternal sense. To this end, God directs his kids to pay attention to the values he teaches and then to let those values "craft" the actions they pursue. Their actions may not yield them the same "benefits" of the unjust, but they will have benefits far exceeding (way into eternity) those of their counter-parts who pursue a life less wholesome. The promise: God won't starve an honest soul. There is nothing we can ever experience where God will not be enough! When we pursue life from the perspective of embracing "justice" and "goodness" over anything "unjust" and "unwholesome", we can count on God to have our backs! Just sayin!