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“Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: 8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: 9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” (Proverbs 30: 7-9).

Agur, the writer of Proverbs 30, was earnestly seeking answers from God (v 7). We have noted how he previously displayed humility when he confessed, “Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man” (v 2).

Agur knew the significance of his requests. He was praying for the removal of temptations that would hinder his witness and testimony for the LORD. He also recognised that no true believer should pursue after the riches of the world and remain in a state of discontentment.

The Apostle Paul declared that such were “men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness” (I Tim 6: 5). Instead, he clarified that true riches can only come by way of “godliness with contentment” (I Tim 6: 6). Thus, Agur, in harmony with the Apostle’s doctrine and having the spirit of a true servant of God, prayed earnestly for God to deliver him from such sinful tendencies.

Agur’s prayer revealed, in no uncertain terms, his earnest desire not to conform to the world that is full of vanity and lies (v 8). We may be in the world, but we are not of the world. As a saint, called unto grace and salvation, we should not be worldly but rather be more like our Master. Not only did Agur yearn to be separated from worldliness; more importantly, he wanted to ensure that his heart was right before God.

Agur acknowledged that temptations could arise from either being rich or poor. As such, he was contented merely with “food convenient for me”, praying for daily sustenance and nothing more or less.

To “take the name of my God in vain” can also be translated as “doing violence to the name of my God”. Thus, we do “violence to the name of our God” when we live a life that is inconsistent with His commandments. We may profess to be followers of Christ, and call ourselves Christians, but our conduct reflects little of a transformed life in Christ.

Brethren, do we desire to be more Christlike? Are we fully contented with what the Lord has appointed for us in life? Like Agur, let us honestly examine ourselves lest we be found falling short of God’s grace.

– Bro Kelvin Li