One of the principles we see all throughout Proverbs, and indeed the whole Bible, is economic wisdom. Economics is a philosophy, an inductive science like logic, and not a deductive science like math or physics. A true study of economics will be praxeology, the study of human action. Every decision we make is an economic weighing of choices: will this action fulfill some need, want, or desire? And how does it affect my time preference: is it preferable to attain something now, or should I wait for another time?
Solomon, being king, obviously would have understood many things about finances and economics simply through experience, but the special wisdom that God gave him undoubtedly provided him with more insight than a normal king would have had. Thus we see many verses reflecting this praxeological reality, that individuals will make choices based on their personal desires and preferences:
Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
A sluggard, one that is slow and lazy, has a low time preference for relaxation. That means that the right now fulfillment of his desire for enjoyment is much more valuable to him than the eventual need for sustenance, and he will choose to be lazy over working to provide for himself because the immediate is more important to him than the eventuality of hunger or deprivation.
Proverbs 13:7 There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.
Even when an individual has the financial capacity to fulfill all of their physical desires, the spiritual aspect to life, that which praxeology can only touch on and observe, often means that even someone with wealth and accomplishments cannot find true inner fulfillment. At the same time, an individual whose priorities are spiritual and who has a long time preference can find blessings and fulfillment in simply being faithful to the service of the LORD.
See, every action in our lives is governed by economic decisions. When you got up this morning for work, you had to weigh the options, consciously or unconsciously: is sleep more important, or is going to work more valuable? If you made it to work on time, then work was more valuable to you than sleep was. That’s how life works: you don’t have to have a dollar sign attached to something to make it an economic determination.
So, the spiritual application of this is simple: what is most important to us? Is having a good job, a nice house, two new cars, and all the toys and the 401k the most important thing to you? I cannot change your desires, and I have no intention of trying, as I’m still busy working on my own. However, you will find that there is no personal joy or fulfillment in accomplishing those worldly goals. Indeed, everything you accrue on this planet is going to burn up! As Solomon would later write: all is vanity.
However, if serving the LORD, both financially and with your whole life, is most important to you, then you will find joy and fulfillment in living the Christian life to the fullest extent that God desires you to. I don’t have nearly good enough teeth to promise you health, wealth, and success if you buy my book and support my ministry (though if you’d like to support us, you can! 😀 ), but I will promise you that the only lasting joy in this world or the next comes from faithfully serving God.
What’s most important to you?