By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life. (KJV)
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. (ESV)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was killed by the Nazis, based his ministry and teachings off of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapters 5-7.
Why mention a man who was killed over 70 years earlier and his favorite teaching?
The most obvious understanding of today’s verse is that with humility and the fear of the Lord, you can become wealthy, be respected, and live well.
Pastor Bonhoeffer came from a wealthy, respected family, and he became a pastor, theologian, and college and seminary professor, willing to work with anyone from any walk of life. That sounds great, but we must remember that he spent the last two years of his life in prison and was hanged by the Third Reich.
The ultimate teaching he lived out and taught includes humility (5:1-12) and seeking God’s righteousness (6:19-33).
In fact, here are three passages to fully understand the rewards of Proverbs 22:4:
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Let it be summarized:
For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
We must seek the riches and honor of God, the Author and Giver of Life, above the riches and honor of this world. He will bless us more than we can ever understand. The greatest blessing is the reward of eternal life through Christ.
Great God, give us all that we need, and help us to seek your righteousness approval above all else.