A Just Reward

A Just Reward  ||  Proverbs 22:4  ||  Tamika Brown
“Membership has its privileges”. This was one the famous slogans of American Express in the 90s and remains a meme today! I’ve used the phrase in various ways and I’m sure you have too.

For American Express it was a signifier that not everyone could belong to their coveted group of card holders. You had to have the right pedigree, bank account and status to have an AmEx. And ain’t this just like us, only certain types of people are considered “acceptable”. But, that’s a different devotional for a different day.

As we close this week’s prayer focus and study on humility, this text is fitting. It reminds us that, like AmEx, humility has its privileges! God wants us to be the amazing people God created us to be. God wants each of us to be members of the kingdom. When we do the work, God wants us to have A Just Reward.

“Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.”

Commentaries sum up Proverbs 22:4a perfectly. To "fear" God is to respectfully recognize how great God is and act accordingly. The "fear of the Lord" is more than respect, but it is not abject terror. True reverence drives out pride and fills the heart with humility.

I imagine though, that we need to do a bit of excavating and mindset-changing for the b part of the verse, especially in today’s prosperity gospel climate that includes superficiality, “I’m in charge” madness, and brand placement. Collectively, there is a need for us to shift, to return to humility.

I love to shop. For shoes and books, I’ll even pay full price … if it is absolutely unavoidable. I truly feel that wealth would suit me! And although we typically think of riches as money and other tangible goods, the text is speaking of something different. A Just Reward of riches reminds us to count our blessings one by one, including the very breath we take. When we begin to not only count, but also appreciate our friends, family, loved ones, new opportunities, second chances, our physical abilities etc. it is amazingly humbling.

Credit, distinction, respect, worth. These are all connected to the notion of honor. When we are “set apart and chosen” by God it is the ultimate honor. It does not make us bigger or better than anyone else, but it does mean that we are growing. And growth is all that any of us can ask for.  A chance to be a little bit better than yesterday is a privilege, A Just Reward.

While the text is likely referring more to the fullness of life, the very breath we breathe is more than enough for us to put pride aside! On this Christian journey the more we love, the more we laugh, the more we learn, the more we lift one another up – it expands us, it expands our life, A Just Reward.
Be proud (but not prideful/arrogant) of who you are, whose you are, all the great things you have done and all the greatness inside of you. Be humble enough to give God thanks. Humility is aspirational. Humility is a daily practice.
Prayer: God, my God. Thank you for another day and another opportunity to learn and practice humbleness. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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