When God says righteousness, He means business. Which means that He’s serious about it, and that He’s talking to Wall Street. Righteousness is not more natural to God than is business. The two do not pertain to distinct and incompatible worlds where Chicago’s commodities trading contrasts with Solomon’s Temple, or New York’s stockbroking opposes Moses’ wilderness tabernacle. In reality, unscrupulous business dealing is only one more variety of human, filthy-ragged righteousness, regardless to how many bucks it seems to make. The book of Proverbs may not be seen as Christianity’s exhaustive statement on a theology of righteousness. But it does provide strong evidence that for God righteousness is demonstrated in exemplary business conduct.
Business and righteousness have a common origin. Their single source is the One whose successful start-up, named Universe, operates exclusively on His personal investments, while allowing Apple and Exxon to play bit parts in His Earth subsidiary. Agriculture and economics are for Him the very stuff of righteousness. In Proverbs, cash flow, cultivation, and going to work early are all inextricably linked together as proofs of righteousness.
More than any other Old Testament text, Proverbs focuses on the righteous person. By way of illustration, the Hebrew term tsaddiq, which labels him, occurs more times (67) in the 915 verses of Proverbs than it does in Psalms (52 times in 2,461 verses). These numbers demonstrate the intensity of focus on righteousness in a book that gives attention to such matters as respect for property and boundary markers (Prov. 22:28; 23:10), and the value of precious metals in relation to heavenly wisdom (Prov. 3:13-18; 8:10). Ultimately, the wages of unscrupulous scheming is punishment. In Proverbs God talks righteousness by talking business. When God says righteousness, He means business. n