Give me only my daily bread

Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.. ~Proverbs 30:7-9 NIV

Proverbs 30 begins by attributing the entire chapter to Agur, son of Jakeh, and explaining that this “inspired utterance” was originally for a man named Ithiel. But, like all scripture, there is truth and meaning here for us, as well.

Agur’s prayer says, “keep falsehood and lies far from me.” He entreats God, asking that he would be disciplined to tell the truth, rather than dealing in lies. Agur is, apparently, interested in maintaining his integrity.

The he turns his attention to the subject of wealth. Agur is anxious to avoid poverty – but not because he might be hungry. Rather, he does not want to be tempted to steal, which would dishonor God. At the same time, he does not seek great financial prosperity, concerned that he might acquire too much, and reject God as a result.

In contemporary American culture, telling the truth is still looked upon as virtuous, and telling a lie is not. Being truthful is a mark of good character.

But what about wealth? According to our culture, there is no limit to the acquisition of wealth and possessions, and it’s all healthy. If you don’t have enough, simply borrow some money to buy more things, the culture says.

Since we’ve been financially blessed almost beyond measure, shouldn’t the North American church have a Biblical understanding of how money works? Romans 12:2 says, in part:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

And Hebrews 13:15 reminds us:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Are American Christians allowing the secular culture to dictate our attitudes about money? How does – or should – Agur’s prayer inform your perception of money and wealth?

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