Category Archives: Money and Finances

The Cost of Bribes

Proverbs 15:27

“He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.” 

“A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.” – NIV

Same Script

Have you ever noticed how most crime dramas on television are the same, at least in the writing department? When we read in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is “no new thing under the sun,” it especially applies to television and movie plots.

One reason that it is hard to come up with anything new is because men keep doing the same things over and over again. The stories are all so similar in pattern because the template is ingrained in man’s fallen nature. He keeps falling for the same old tricks every time, like fish that never question a swimming worm.

One common story line involves a man who needs money, takes a bribe, gets caught, then brings his family to ruin. It varies, of course, but whether it’s a politician who takes a bribe in order to keep his career afloat, or a discouraged policeman who deals confiscated drugs in order to take care of his sick children, the end is always the same – trouble.

Doing What’s Right

It is not always easy to turn down easy money. Sometimes the offer can seem pretty tempting. Several years ago my wife and I were asked to hire undocumented workers in order to keep down the costs of a cleaning contract. We were told over and over, “They work hard for little money…everyone does it…no one will find out.” We could have saved thousands of dollars in labor costs.

Doing what is right, however, is more important than money. Greed is the downfall of many. What would have happened my wife’s company had been visited by federal agents? How many lies would she have been responsible for when she filed payroll taxes? What would have happened to our family of one of us had been sent to jail?

Even when times are at their worst, doing wrong, taking a bribe, doing it for the money, is never good for one’s home. Somebody down the line will pay for poor choices made.


What Is Better than Wealth?

Proverbs 15:16

“Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.”

Would You Rather

Have you ever played “Would You Rather?”? It’s sort of a conversation-starting kind of game, if it’s a game at all. There are no winners or losers.

One person asks an either/or question like, “Would your rather eat a roach, or aspirate a snotty baby’s nose by mouth?” The answer would have to be one or the other, not an “I would never do either!” You have to choose.

In the case of the above question, either answer is a loser…unless you’re one of those mother’s who do that kind of thing to your snotty baby…or unless you eat bugs. Most people would just lose the contents of their stomachs.

Better/Than

What we see in this proverb not an either/or question, but a better/than comparison. Unlike the “would you rather” question, this one has a clear winner and loser.

What is “better”? Little. Just the scrapings. Hardly anything.

What is “than”? Great riches. A storehouse full of provision. More money than anyone else. But notice, there’s nothing “bad” or “wrong” with great riches; it’s just not better.

Better than what?

Great riches are not better than scraping by if great riches are all you have. It’s better to have hardly anything and have the fear of the Lord, a righteous heart, a forgiven soul, a peace that passes all understanding, than great wealth and all the worry and anxiety it can bring.

Winning Secret

Oh, but remember how in the first game of “Would You Rather?” there are no real winners? That’s not the case at all with choosing to have a little and the fear of the Lord!

Here’s a little secret: If you choose a little and the Lord, the eternal riches far exceed anything one could amass on earth. Jesus asked, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

As the old hymn says, “I’d rather have Jesus.”


True Treasure

Proverbs 15:6

In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.”

Where is my money?

I can hear many people asking after reading this verse, “If the house of the righteous is full of treasure, and I am a devout Christian, where is all of my money? It sure seems wicked people have all the money!”

If this is you, you are not the first to complain about evil people seeming so well-off. We read in Psalm 73:3, “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Many godly people have wondered at this.

Claim It in Faith

There is another s0-called gospel message out there, often called the “prosperity gospel” or “Name-It-and-Claim-It,” teaches just that: if you name your desire in faith that God will deliver, you will receive that very thing.

Under this message, with enough faith you can be happy, healthy, and wealthy. Proponents of this message firmly believe in the combined promise of Proverbs 13:22b, “the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just“, and John 16:23, “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

Trust me that these verses are taken entirely out of context.

True Treasure

Here is the real context: while some righteous people will be wealthy and/or healthy, most will only earn their treasure as good standing with God in Heaven by obeying His commands and living in His love.

Read Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-24:

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

The wicked lose out on the favor of God. Our true treasure is Jesus Christ.

Lord, grow Your love in our hearts that we may serve You and love You. Grant us Your grace and patience, that instead of pursuing money and things we would seek Your favor. You are the true treasure.


Giving is Honoring

Proverbs 14:31

“He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.”
“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.” – ESV

Do You Hate God?

It’s as simple as this: if you take advantage of or mistreat the poor, you hate God. End of story. On the other hand, if you love God, then you will have mercy on the poor.

Do you remember old Scrooge? Remember how he despised the idea of giving money to help the poor and needy. At one point he said, “Are there no prisons? [The workhouses], are they still in operation?” Yet, when he got the “Christmas spirit” he had a change of heart and gave more than anyone else?

Beware the Blowhard

Don’t let any pompous blowhard convince you he loves his Maker if he never drops a dime in a Salvation Army kettle. Never trust a religious deacon who raises the rent on his commercial property in order to keep the single moms away. The lottery promoter who makes huge profits on the backs of those who can barely afford to put food on the table…well, he might as well spit in the face of Christ.

His Hands and Feet

We are the hands and feet of Christ in this world. We are to help those who need help as if the Lord was here in the flesh doing it Himself. That is what it means to be Christ-like. Of course, there are needs which will never be met, no matter how hard we try. But showing mercy is a sure sign we are honoring the one who showed greater mercy, giving us everything in the gift of His Son.


Don’t Hate ‘Em, Join ‘Em

Proverbs 14:24

“The crown of the wise is their riches: but the foolishness of fools is folly.”

 Class Warfare

One of the greatest tools of the powerful is to prey on the jealous tendencies of men and women. The ones seeking votes pit the rich against the (perceived) poor and create something called class warfare. In order to manipulate votes they try to make the poor think that their lives will improve if the rich are punished for being wealthy, or “make ’em pay!

In the last national election I heard things like, “Rich people don’t need all that money,” and “We need to tax the wealthy in order to provide for the poor.” I even heard a teenager essentially say of Mitt Romney, “He’s nothin’ but a rich (anal orifice) that wants to take away our food stamps!

Don’t Blame the Rich

This proverb doesn’t condemn the rich, however; it praises them. Actually, it praises the wise who become wealthy by saying that their riches are tangible evidence of their wisdom.

Many times the poor are tempted to come up with all kinds of reasons to hate people with more money. They accuse them of all kinds of things, from unjustly inheriting fortunes to steeling from elderly. The jealous and envious run around condemning the rich, while hypocritically wishing they were sailing on the same yacht.

What the “fools” of this proverb fail to understand is that the wise are wealthy because of wise choices. The poor, on the other hand, are poor because of foolish choices.

Choices and Consequences

It has been addressed before, but choices lead to consequences. When we make poor choices regarding money we end up poorer. When we make wise choices we are better off in the end.

For instance, most millionaires in America became wealthy as the result of long, hard work and taking calculated risks. They rarely drive the newest cars, wear the most fancy watches, or live in the biggest houses. Instead of sports cars, according to a book called The Millionaire Next Door, the most common vehicle driven by a millionaire was a used Ford truck. And instead of flashing a Rolex, most wear watches that cost lest than $200.

But as for the “foolish,” well, that’s a totally different story. Instead of working hard, they try hard not to work. Instead of investing in the future, they waste multiple thousands on tobacco, partying, tattoos, lottery tickets, check advances, booze, big screen TV’s, bass boats, jewelry, cell phones, and even wheels that cost more than the cars they drive.

So, the next time you find yourself hating those crowned with riches, take a look at your own investment portfolio. Instead of hating the wise, why not learn from them?


Employment Issues

Proverbs 14:23

In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.

No Work, No Pay

In February 1980 I lost my job. I had been married for just under a year, and my wife was pregnant with our first child. Although my wife was still working, she had part-time work only, and we could not survive without my income.

My first visit to the unemployment benefit office was educational, and I was surprised at the number of people claiming benefits who appeared to have no desire to find employment. Being unemployed was not an option for me, but it took seven weeks of filling out forms and knocking on doors before I managed to find a job as the UK was in recession at this time. Sitting down and talking about finding employment would not have worked. I needed to take action if we were to be able to pay our bills. I needed work.

Low Pay

My new job paid less than half of what I had been earning a few months earlier when I was still serving at sea. I came ashore six months after our wedding because I did not want to be separated from my wife for two-thirds of the year. My new job was somewhat different. I exchanged my navigating officer’s uniform for overalls, and my ship for a van. My days were spent driving around the county delivering motor parts to garages.

Despite the low pay I enjoyed my new job. Instead of the freedom of the high seas, I had the freedom of the countryside. Instead of having a salary transferred directly into my bank account at the end of each month, I received my wages in cash at the end of each week.

Job Satisfaction

photo-9The fact that work is about more than wages is most evident in the face of one of the assistants at our local supermarket. He regularly mans the self-service tills. Customers use the self-service tills because they are supposed to be quicker. Inevitably they are not and there are often problems. When problems occur the assistant manning the tills is frequently on the receiving end of significant abuse. This particular assistant smiles his way through the day, despite the abuse. He told me he enjoys his work. It is a joy to watch him in action…a man who is satisfied with his job, because in all labor there is profit, and profit is more than hard cash.


Friends and Neighbors

Proverbs 14:20

“The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends.”

Definition of a Neighbor

An expert in the law once asked Jesus the question: “Who is my neighbor?” This man knew that the law told him to love his neighbor, but while the purpose of the question was to test Jesus, it is doubtful that he was head over heels in love with all his neighbors. So Jesus told a story and put the expert in the law on the spot. The story involved a Samaritan, a person the expert in the law was least likely to want as his next-door neighbor. At the end of the story the legal expert begrudgingly accepted that out of three people, the Samaritan was the only true neighbor to the injured Jew in the illustration provided by Jesus. The mercy, compassion and love showed by the Samaritan enriched him as the giver, and the injured Jew as the receiver. It must also have enriched the innkeeper.

Poor Neighbor or Good?

While mercy, compassion and love bring enrichment, the process of hating another human being brings impoverishment to all parties. Hate is a strong and unpleasant word, but if there is a person or group of people we despise, don’t like, disrespect, look down on, etc., then is that any better than hate? What gives us the right to judge ourselves better than another human being? Are we good neighbors or poor neighbors? Are we rich in mercy, compassion and love? Should we be friends of the rich or good neighbors to the poor?

Who are Your Friends?

It is said that we can choose our friends but not our families. Similarly, it is not possible to choose our neighbors, especially if we consider how Jesus defined neighbors. Jesus quite deliberately spent much of his time with the impoverished of society, rather than with rich people, famous people, or clever people. His friends were fishermen, prostitutes, tax collectors, and the like. Jesus wasn’t intimidated by learning, wealth or position, He looked at the heart. So when a rich young man asked Jesus what he needed to do to be saved, Jesus told him to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor. By enriching the lives of others in this way this young man would have become wealthy in a different way, with riches that would last forever.

Who is your neighbor?