Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.
"But it worked," the fool tells a wise man questioning his business dealings. "Look at this check! People don't send you money for nothing. Read these testimonials. Others are getting rich doing the same thing. Stop trying to discourage me from getting ahead. You go work for someone else. I'm going to find my dreams!"
Ha, ha! Ha, ha! The Preacher, the most successful and richest man who ever lived, laughs and laughs. He knows that this fool is going down, and he knows that the wise man, who keeps going to work every day at his boring job, is going up. Ha, ha! Ha, ha!
Vanity is a vain, foolish, wrong, and unprofitable approach to something (Ps 39:5,11; 62:9; Eccl 2:11,26; 3:19; 4:7-8; 6:2; 7:6; Is 41:29; Jer 16:19; 51:18). Wealth gotten by vanity is temporary results from vain, foolish, wrong, and unprofitable business or investment practices. Going down, anyone?
Do results impress you? The fool in our proverb is wealthy. His vain methods of business and investment worked! Or did they? "Results" can be very, very deceiving.
Do results impress you? There are thousands of testimonials for every scam ever sold. Yes, thousands! Yes, every scam! You don't read testimonials? Ever? Great! They are all a mix of wishful thinking, placebo effect, crowd psychology, and lying. Pure vanity!
Who would read testimonials about working hard day after day in a boring job? Just doesn't tickle the ears of fools or sluggards, does it? Who would read testimonials about denying yourself to increase your saving. The Preacher would! Thank you, Lord. If you don't believe Solomon's testimony here, there is cheap swampland for sale in Florida.
Do results impress you? In the early stages, Ponzi schemes, pyramid frauds, and MLM programs produce temporary "profits." But the success does not last, and it never reaches more than a miniscule percentage of the participants. Who wants to "go into business for yourself" where 2% of the "distributors" make all the profits? Going down?
Most of Holland speculated in tulips in the 1630s; many became rich. But the bottom fell out and crushed the fools in 1637. Many in England traded the stock of the South-Sea Company to wealth, which was based only on hope. There was a total collapse in 1720. The Roaring Twenties brought the U.S. stock market to ridiculous heights before it crashed, leaving the nation in a multi-year depression. And after running up the new dotcom stocks in 2000, though none had made a profit, the whole NASDAQ stock index collapsed 70% in the following months. The fools were spanked, hard!
This phenomenon of temporary success for foolish and fraudulent business ventures is called the prosperity of fools (Pr 1:32). It attracts more fools to be punished. Notice in our own proverb that wealth is indeed gotten! But the wealth does not continue, for it has been gotten by foolish and wrong means; and it will be diminished shortly. God will not allow it to continue, and neither will the laws of economics. Going down?
Such vain results are diminished several ways. They were gotten hastily without effort, so they leave the same way. We say, "Easy come, easy go." They create a false sense of success, which leads to more foolish decisions. The perceived prosperity also leads to excessive spending to show off their wealth. And the Lord Himself will blow against their efforts, for He will not let fools succeed for long by violating His ordinances.
Men are tempted by any idea allowing them to work less and make more. It is the deceitful nature of our wicked hearts to expect something for nothing, especially in this spoiled and lazy generation. We love lies; we resent truth. Due to this temptation, our proverb warns us against it. If you want to get ahead financially, then get to work, now!
Hard work done consistently over time with savings and investment will result in increase. And God will multiply your efforts. This is financial wisdom. Are you able to rule your foolish and deceitful heart and believe it? It is your perverse flesh that wants to work less and make more. Choose wisdom! Going up? See the comments on 12:11.
Hard work and discipline for financial success will continue to work into the future, for the character traits it took to make some progress will lead to more progress. And with investment capital in hand, the hardworking man can now buy productive assets to leverage his character and efforts into greater returns. See the comments on 14:4.
The commandments of the Lord Jesus, to teach you how to walk and please God, include how you work (I Thess 4:1-12). Let us provide things honest in the sight of all men by rejecting financial vanity and being faithful and diligent workers (Rom 12:17; Eph 4:28).