Proverbs 10:2a cautions us that “treasures of wickedness profit nothing”. This warning is more pertinent than ever before. Countries, organizations and individuals who once advocated and promoted a morally upright way of life and who also flourished economically, today appear to have lost their determination and mettle to continue in the same perspective about life. In the name of economic security and progress, immorality and destructive lifestyles are accommodated everywhere. This tolerance of an immoral lifestyle for economic reasons will not bring any true gain, according to the Bible.
The Hebrew word for “treasures” (owtsar) refers to wealth and possessions. “Treasures” are often mentioned as God’s gift and as His reward to His servants. The Bible promises “treasures” to those who will love God and live by His Word. Proverbs 15:6a says, “In the house of the righteous is much treasure.” Likewise, Proverbs 21:20 affirms that “there is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise”. Therefore, treasure or wealth is not evil in itself.
However, if wealth is regarded above all other matters of life, especially spiritual and moral principles and duties, it becomes an evil thing. So Scripture says, “Labour not to be rich” (Proverbs 23:4). It is a great evil to give pre-eminence to affluence and prosperity. Scripture also warns, “He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him” (Proverbs 28:22). So let it be our conviction that “Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich” (Proverbs 28:6)!
“Treasures of wickedness” refers to ill-gotten wealth. Greed and covetousness lead man to earn money through all kinds of unjust, deceptive, violent, sensual and cruel methods. “Treasures of wickedness” are the fruits of selfish desires.
That kind of wealth which men get unjustly will do them no good, because God will blast it. Proverbs 22:16 says that there is one that “oppresseth the poor to increase his riches”. There are also those who borrow much to appear rich (cf. Proverbs 13:7a), thus making themselves enslaved to worry and work.
Proverbs 13:11 talks about “wealth gotten by vanity”. It is referring to wealth gotten through greedy and wicked means; such will prove to be of no lasting value. James 5:1-5 speaks of such wealth gained through vain means — “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.”
“Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.” This rancid wealth rots the heart of the one who gets it and it cannot save him from his ultimate demise. Righteousness, however, is a far more precious treasure. This righteousness of the Eternal God, this gift given to us by grace through faith, is greater than the limits of our mortality and powerful enough to redeem our souls from death.
“Treasures of wickedness” may dazzle, and may furnish a greedy heart with gratification. The treasures of wicked people – even the treasures which they have acquired through wicked or ungodly means – will profit nothing, no matter how safely they are laid up. They will neither profit the soul nor the body. They will not secure any true comfort or happiness. Instead, such treasures, gained through wicked means, will bring much trouble and sorrow!
Dear readers, keep yourselves away from every ungodly and filthy place set up to provide jobs and businesses. The money they offer may be huge and very attractive, but do not forget the warnings of God’s Word. Working in such places can destroy yourselves, your families, friends and even others in the society. It is better to be poor and pure than wealthy and filthy.