(Proverbs 13:11 KJV) Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.
When we read this verse we need to understand the meaning of “wealth” (1952). For most people it would seem almost impossible to accept this statement because of their definition of wealth. Most people would equate wealth with financial strength. That could be applied to this verse but it would seem that the number of poor working people in the world would make us skeptical. So how does it apply?
First notice two things that are visible in both the KJV and the NASB. The words “gotten” (KJV) and “obtained” (NASB) are marked by the translators as not being found in the Greek and are added for understanding. Then notice the final word in the NASB, “it” is marked the same way and is left out of the KJV altogether. When you leave them out the NASB becomes:
Wealth by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases.
This changes the meaning of wealth. It becomes a much broader concept which fits in better with the rest of Proverbs. Wealth, riches, prosperity and such words tend to have a meaning that goes beyond dollar signs.
Biblical wealth involves things like wisdom, righteousness, peace and eternal life. It is a very expansive understanding. With that in mind it becomes possible for the janitor to be better off than the CEO. This is not a pie in the sky, cop out. It is a statement of fact. It is a cliche that money does not buy happiness. A wag said he would rather be rich and miserable than poor and miserable. Both are true. But the concept here is that honest, godly work is what rewards.
So? Keep hoping for a promotion. Keep investing and saving. Those are all approved in Proverbs. But don’t sacrifice the wealth of God to do it. It is possible to be ambitious and content at the same time. Godly priorities can do that for us.