[O Lord], give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

Proverbs 30:8-9

This saying teaches us that there are spiritual dangers associated with both poverty and riches. The Bible actually has more warnings about the spiritual dangers of riches–and/or the desire to obtain exorbitant amounts of wealth. Greed corrupts. Wealth reinforces pride and makes it harder to see one’s need for God. This is not to say that the rich are automatically greedy or arrogant. The Bible contains stories of many rich heroes of the faith–so does the history of the church. Nevertheless, the temptations that accompany wealth are very powerful–and must be warned against in every generation.

This saying is also concerned with poverty–because of the corresponding temptation to steal (we could include here temptations to make money in illegal trades).

So, the sage rightly notes that the middle way is the least risky spiritually. With at least our daily bread, we don’t need to be tempted to steal to meet our needs. With only our daily bread, we don’t need to be tempted into all the godless troubles associated with great wealth.

The spiritual act of giving to others greatly helps the community find the middle place of healthy spiritual dependence. As the rich give to the poor they mitigate their risk to forget God, and simultaneously help the poor with their daily bread. The church has practiced this cheerfully for centuries. Let us continue to help one another find our contentment in the Lord.