Proverbs 16: Economic Justice is Wisdom
How did your November Proverbs reading go?
I had a great time waking up early every morning with a cup of coffee, a dog sleeping on my lap, and a Bible in hand to start the day. Though November was a particularly busy time around CUMC and GAUMC, I still found a few minutes a day to read the chapter of Proverbs.
What did you learn? What stuck out?
Proverbs 16:8, 11
"Better is a little with righteousness than large income with injustice. Honest balances and scales are the Lord's; all the weights in the bag are his work."
It's amazing to me how much the book of Proverbs talks about money and politics. Though it can be popular and easy to misinterpret some parts of the Bible which might lead us to think that money is bad or to be avoided, the book of Proverbs is actually pro-money. But it's all about "righteousness" and "justice." Living a life with a "large income" is not inherently wrong, but it is if that money was made by oppressing groups of people - either directly or indirectly. What this means is that each of us needs to look at the ways in which we make money and ask "How is my line of work amassing wealth? Is it ethical? Are we bad polluters? Does some group of people halfway across the globe become destitute because of the way we produce our goods? Is what I'm doing helping the world and its inhabitants to flourish or am I adding to stress in people's lives?"
Part of the challenge is that too often we merely work on the surface level of industry. We may sell clothes that were produced in a sweat shop in Bangladesh, and we know that's infused with injustice, but we may have our brains off to that reality because it's sold in such a nice store in America.
In other words, Proverbs wants us to go deep into the economic reality we live in. The world is complicated. Not all of us find it easy to make money that doesn't oppress someone somewhere, but perhaps Solomon is giving us the kick in the pants we need to take steps towards being more ethical.
If that is the result of our Bible reading, then God is working in us. We're moving towards wisdom.