Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.
— Proverbs 22:4
The rewards promised in Proverbs 22:4 are fleshed out in verses 1-3. Avoiding pride is not enough. We need to lean away from it and become humble.
God makes both the rich and the poor, says verse 2. In this context, “rich” does not refer to having an extravagant life. Having riches, or wealth, means that when we are doing God’s work—that is, living God’s way—we can count on receiving everything we truly need to keep going.
And wealth isn’t the most important reward. Honor, a good name, is more desirable than great riches, says verse 1. By humbly following God, we gain the respect of other good people, and we probably gain some respect from some not-so-great people also.
The most reliable reward of humbly following God is life itself. When we are humble enough to rely on God’s direction, it is amazing how many pitfalls we avoid. We avoid the problems that pride falsely says we can handle ourselves.
When we are humble, we are amazed how often God helps us steer clear of trouble that we didn’t even see coming. When we are humble and we see or hear of someone’s folly leading to ruin, we learn to say, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” That’s because, as verse 3 notes, the unwise keep going right into trouble; they don’t have God to guide them.
Dear Jesus, life can be so tricky. I could easily fall into troubles that would hurt me physically or financially or even ruin my good name. You alone can guide me safely through. Amen.