Pastoral Letter 03 Apr 2022

My dear readers,

Do Not Be Deceitful

Proverbs 10:4: “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”

Deceit is the hallmark of a depraved sinner. God revealed this truth to us in Jeremiah 17:9-11: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.”

The person himself is not even aware that he has deceived himself. For example, he tells himself that the more money he has, the better a life he will have for himself and his family. He drives himself hard and strives to succeed at all costs including spending less time with his family so that he can earn more money and give the best things in life that money can buy for his family and secure his children’s future in the process. Money makes the world go round for him. After more than fifty years of slogging, he has become a multi-millionaire. His family lives in a big house. He has enough money to take care of his family in luxury! But his relationship with his children and wife is cold and superficial. He is not close to them as he spent most of his time making money. He is rich in material possessions but bankrupt in relationships. Does he really have a successful life? He deceives himself into thinking that a rich and full life is measured by the abundance of the things he possesses. He has been fooled by his own foolishness. This also happens to many professing believers who ought to know better.

Proverbs 10:4 is for God's people. It warns of the pitfalls of deception which is what the phrase “a slack hand” means. The literal translation of this verse is: “He becomes poor who deals with a closed palm: but the open hand of the diligent accumulates riches.”

Israel had been promised by the LORD that if they obeyed the LORD’s Word they would be blessed with material abundance (cf. Lev 26 and Deut 28). However, if they sinned against the LORD and disobeyed His Word and refused to repent, they would be cursed by Him. Therefore, if the Israelites wanted to be wealthy, all they needed to do was to obey the Word of God. Everything about the nation of Israel was ordained by God for His people to walk by faith easily. They were given dietary laws instructing them what they could and could not eat from the beasts to the fowls to the fish (cf. Lev 11). Their garments must not be mixed but made of either 100% linen or wool (Deut 22:11). Their annual holy days are the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Trumpet Blowing, Tabernacles or Booths, the Day of Atonement (cf. Lev 23). They were given the sin offering, burnt offering, peace offering, and thank offering to help them restore their relationship with God whenever they sinned against Him. These were all given to help every Israelite to find salvation in Christ and to live in holiness. When these were done in obedience to God's Word and by faith, they would experience assurance of salvation. Israel was surrounded by all things spiritual that pointed them to Christ. When they did all by faith, the LORD promised them material blessings because Israel worshipped the LORD in spirit, in truth and in location. The blessings from God were both spiritual and physical. They did not need to use deception to gain wealth.

But there would be those who would use deception to gain wealth! Thus, the warning from the LORD in Proverbs 10:4. The LORD warns that such a deceptive person will be poor. The phrase “a slack hand” literally means to “hold the palm of the hand together.” The hand is closed and others cannot see what is in the palm of his hand. This is a picture of one who wants to cheat. He is not transparent in all his affairs including business or marriage covenants. He is like a magician who does his tricks best with his palm closed. He begins by showing that his palm is empty, then he will close it and that is where the magic trick is done to deceive the eyes of the observers. There are people like him whose hands are quick like lightning. They can conjure magic tricks in front of you with great deception. The deceptive person is poor because he has no salvation. He refuses to follow the way of holiness to gain wealth even when God has shown him the way. He foolishly chooses the way of sin. He is poor in heart, mind and soul even as he is surrounded by all things that can lead him to life eternal like growing up in a godly environment; and yet he turns his back on God in Christ and chooses the way of sin and death.

The contrast is that the honest, sincere and diligent believer makes himself rich. This godly option had been made available to all who lived in Israel, especially God’s people. All they needed to do was to trust in the LORD and obey His holy Word. Whenever they sinned against the Lord, they needed to bring the animal offerings to the Lord with a broken and contrite heart in faith. Their sins would be forgiven. If they lived in holiness throughout the week, the Lord would bless the labour of their hands as they worked hard. If they were farmers their land would be fruitful. Leviticus 26:3-5: “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.” This was a period of theocracy where the Provider and Protector of Israel was the LORD! He controlled the rain, ensuring the Land was properly and timely watered for planting and harvesting. All that the LORD required from His people was that they bore a holy witness and Israel would truly be a land flowing with milk and honey for the world to see.

This holds true for God’s people today with one big difference. The blessing for the New Testament church is only spiritual as we worship the LORD in spirit and in truth and no longer in location. The requirement is the same. Focus on the LORD in holiness and do all things honestly and diligently. He will protect and care for us just as He cared for His people in Old Testament times. God’s children will not suffer any want in life. All they need to do is to walk by faith and trust in the Lord according to His holy and precious and perfect Word of Life. Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew
Advisory Pastor

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