Wealth is not profitable on a day of wrath,
but righteousness rescues from death.
Proverbs 11:4 HCSB
What an incredible picture of the gospel, here in Proverbs! What a perfectly concise summary of the New Testament’s teaching on justification!
On the day of wrath, what wealth could possibly buy you anything? Can you bribe the One who owns everything? What offer would you make to forestall the wrath and judgment awaiting you?
Remember Yahweh’s consistent warnings to Israel: “I don’t require sacrifices from you because I’m hungry or needy. I require them because you are. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for I own the cattle on a thousand hills.”
We must always be on guard against the lie that we are appealing or attractive to God in ourselves; we are not. God loves us because we are made in His image and loved in His Son. Left to ourselves, we are hateful, despicable, loathsome worms who are rightly destroyed. Furthermore, whatever “wealth” we have not only doesn’t appeal to God, it’s all His anyway! “What do you have that is not a gift, and why do you act as though it isn’t a gift?”
It is not wealth that appeals to God for us, but “righteousness rescues from death.”
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23 HCSB).
What will save us from the wrath we deserve is the righteousness we lack. Jesus is our righteousness.
But from Him you are in Christ Jesus, who for us became wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written: ‘The one who boasts must boast in the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 1:30-31 HCSB).
Money can buy many things, and we must be thankful for all the good provision that comes from our loving Father’s hand. But we must never think that any of it is ours, that we deserve it, or that we can bribe Him with it. Wealth is not profitable–it gains us nothing–on the day of wrath, but righteousness–the free gift of Another’s obedience offered to us–rescues from death.