Category Archives: Money and Finances

Fine Linen

Proverbs 31:24

“She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.”

Here, in this description of a virtuous, priceless woman, we see further proof that a woman is not limited to domestic work. Although she takes care of her household, she is industrious and business-minded. She makes a product she’s proud of and not afraid to stake her family’s reputation.

Notice here, too, that she is not only a hard worker, but she knows how to make use of her time. Instead of working for every dollar (or whatever currency she uses), she lets her money work for her. Instead of setting up a stand beside the road to sell her wares, she makes her product available to be sold by a merchant.

Personally, I believe there is a little bit of cleverness in the last part of this verse. She makes a product and sells it, but she “delivereth girdles unto the merchant.” It could be that she is just making a delivery, but it might be possible that she is greasing the skids of business. She gives the merchant something special for selling her product.

A wise woman, good in business and full of virtue, is obviously going to be one that is concerned with quality and the way others in the market are treated. By following her example, men and women alike would earn a better reputation and further the cause of the faith (see 1 Timothy 3:7).

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The Best-Dressed Family

Proverbs 31:21

“She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.”

The Best

This proverb is about a mother, a wife, a woman who is not afraid of the weather forecast, for she has already made plans for the cold. But even more, it’s about a proud (in a good sense) and resourceful mother who cares enough to clothe her family with the highest quality garments.

Most people are unfamiliar with with how costly the colors scarlet and purple were back in biblical times. They are also typically unaware of the quality of garments treated with these dyes. Without going into too much detail, just to put things in perspective, to dye a shirt purple back in those days could cost the equivalent of $1,000 in today’s money. The rarity of true purple dye, the kind used for royalty, is hard for the modern mind to comprehend.

And what’s more, the dye that was used was known to preserve garments. It is reported that when Alexander the Great rode into Susa, he was presented with a scarlet robe found in one of the palaces. It was said to have been hundreds of years old, yet in perfect condition due to the preserving qualities of the dye.

She Cared

Maybe it would help if we considered what a Proverbs 31 woman is NOT. The anti-thesis of the woman in this proverb could care less how her family looks in public. She would buy the cheapest quality, even though she had money to do otherwise. She would let the kids dress themselves without concerning herself about rain, snow, or the looks of others. Essentially, she could care less about her own appearance, so why bother with her family.

I’ll never forget how my wife, when buying shoes for our children, would take them to a quality shoe store. She used to say, “I know they’re expensive, but good shoes are better for their feet…and better shoes last longer.” She invested in our children’s health. Or, as a certain greeting card company would say, she cared enough to give the best.

The Best You Have

Now, not everyone can afford “the best.” To be the best wife does not mean one has to be the richest or most stylish. The virtuous woman does not have to have access to the highest quality money can buy.

However, a good woman cares about her family, not only in how they are prepared, but how others see them. She understands that how her household is dressed is not only a reflection on herself, but on her husband as well. She does her best to send the message that her household is one that not only takes care of each other, but does it with style.

After all, a good wife is better than a queen, so why not dress her children like royalty?


A Spicy Ship

Proverbs 31:10, 14

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. … She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.”

Being Careful

I must be careful, for any time a man writes about his wife he should first consider: what he is about to say…the weather…her mood…her future mood…whether or not she will ever read what he writes…what people will tell her he wrote…and most importantly, has she taken out any new life insurance policies?

King Lemuel was a very fortunate man, much like King Solomon. Both had the luxury of living in a culture that prized such things as goats, flocks of sheep, and merchant’s ships. They thought these things were beautiful and found no difficulty in comparing their wives to them. However, I must be careful when I compare my wife to a heavily-laden wooden hull that creaks, leaks, and has to be patched with tar. I’m better off comparing her hair to a flock of goats, and her teeth to a flock of sheep (Sgs. 4:1-2)!

However, in order to keep with the program, I must find a way to relate to Proverbs 31:14, to share my “thoughts,” and to make an application. Therefore, I will get to the point of what the passage is telling us before I get into trouble.

Spiced Up

The rare and virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is like the merchant’s ships in that she is always a source of variety. Instead of being content with the same old stuff day after day, this woman is like a merchant’s ship, one that goes out far and wide to find new spices, new colors, and new fragrances to adorn not only herself but to spice up her home.

Most people know how plain and dreary a man’s home can be without a good woman. I was always one who liked white walls, plain dishes, and simple clothes. But when my wife came along, up went color on the walls, color on the table, and color on me (I would have never worn anything but a white or blue shirt under a suit).

Bargains

The woman of this verse is also a bargain shopper. Like the merchant’s ship, she travels far and wide to find the best deals, the ones most advantageous to her family, and always comes back with something to show for her efforts.

Anyone who really knows me could tell you that I hate – I HATE – to negotiate on prices. On the other hand, my wife almost never pays full price for anything. I have literally witnessed her negotiate on an object at a rummage sale when the asking price was only 25 cents! My response was, “Valerie! Pay the man a quarter and let’s go!”

Variety is the spice of life, so they say. If that is true, a good woman brings plenty of flavor to the table.


An Excellent Prayer

Proverbs 30:7-9 

Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: 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. 
“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; 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. (NIV)

Matthew Henry noted the similarity between these verses and the Lord’s Prayer in respect of ‘lead us not into temptation’ (Matthew 6:13) and ‘give us today our daily bread’ (Matthew 6:11). While it is easy to see that giving into temptation is going to damage our relationship with God (and possibly family, friends, colleagues, etc.) the problems associated with wealth are less visible, especially to the wealthy. When a rich young man wanted to follow Jesus he was instructed to sell all that he had and give what he raised through his high class garage sale to the poor. The rich young man couldn’t part with his money and lifestyle. Consequently he walked away from Jesus and the greatest opportunity he had ever been given.

The whole wealth thing troubles me. I have never aspired to be a wealthy man, and there have been times when I have struggled financially. There have also been times when I have not struggled. But if I look back on my life so far I could honestly say that without having prayed that God give me neither poverty nor riches, that is exactly what He has done. There have been exceptionally good times, and there have been exceptionally difficult times, but I have never gone hungry like many others in this world, or been in a position where I have had to consider stealing just to survive. I’m not sure how I would react if it was the only way to feed my family. One thing I do know is that this proverb is an excellent prayer, so good that Jesus included its words in the prayer He gave His followers:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13 NIV)


Wisdom over Harlots

Proverbs 29:3

Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.
A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,     but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth. (NIV)

The second half of today’s verse probably does not need much explanation.

Getting prostitutes is not the best way to spend money.

For starters, they can be expensive up front. If they are not expensive up front, and even if they are, they could be even more expensive later.

You may need to also pay for:

  • Divorce
  • Counseling
  • Medical needs
  • Medication for said needs
  • Reputation
  • and much, much more!

Your wealth could be squandered very quickly with prostitutes.

A Happy Father

Wisdom is always the better choice.

It could make you rich, if you are wise with money, but there is no guarantee of that.

It will usually keep you out of trouble (though wicked people often find a way to bring you trouble!)

It is probably true with most parents, but I know when I made wise decisions those were the times my father was the most proud of me.

The satisfaction I think we should all strive for, though, is higher than that.

Solomon became king of Israel at a very young age, and God gave him the chance to ask for anything he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom.

How did God respond? 1 Kings 3:10 tells us:

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.

How amazing would it be to know our Heavenly Father, the God, Creator, and Savior of all creation, was happy with us?

Heavenly Father, give your servants discerning hearts to govern our lives and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours, but You?


Give, and It Shall Be Given

Proverbs 28:27 

“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.”

Not the Lottery

Don’t think that by giving a dollar here and there to the poor, like during the Christmas season when you pass by a Salvation Army kettle, that such charity will produce lottery winning-like fruit. There is nothing in this proverb that guarantees you will be rich in return for your philanthropy.

However, the first promise of this proverb (if nothing more than a statement based on general observation) says that the person who gives to the poor will not lack. In other words, don’t worry about your own needs when you give to those less fortunate.

If I have heard it said once, I’ve heard it said thousands of times, “You can’t out-give God.”

Not a Safe Deposit

On the other end of this proverb is another promise. It states that the one who looks away from the poor in order to conserve his own wealth, whether it be commodities of gold or personal energy, will surely pay for his lack of generosity.

Poverty

Poverty (Photo credit: Teo’s photo)

Some people will walk right by a beggar, a person asking for a dollar for food, or even a Salvation Army kettle at Christmas and think to themselves, “I have to hold on to my money.” The only problem with that kind of thinking is that your money is not really your money. And when it comes to not giving in order to save up for a rainy day, the rot of one’s own greed can eat away at any thing stored down here.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

So, as Jesus said, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (Luke 6:38 NLT).


Are You Blind?

Proverbs 28:22

“He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.”

Are You Blind?

The first thing that came to mind when I read this proverb was the term “get rich schemes.” But, after a few moments of pondering, a question which I have heard asked many times popped into my head: “Are you blind?”

If you have ever driven in a large, metropolitan city, especially one like New York, then I’m sure you have probably heard someone yell out a colloquial version of, “Hey buddy, ya’ blind!?” Maybe you were asked that question when you turned in front of a taxi. Or, maybe you have asked your child that question after being whacked in the head with a kitchen cabinet door. “Sweetie! Are you blind? Didn’t you see me standing here?”

Bad Vision

Maybe the one who turned in front of the taxi driver had a glass eye? Maybe the child that trips over stuff in the floor needs glasses? Sometimes people have accidents because they are not able to see clearly, like their eyes aren’t working properly.

In the same way, Solomon suggests that the one who rushes to get rich must have a bad (evil) eye. It’s not that his eye is intentionally trying to cause him harm; it must be handicapped. Why else would any sane, logical person with any common sense make haste towards poverty? Could it be the result of a character flaw? Poor instruction? Bad advice? Or, could it be that the one hastening to get rich lacks the ability to see down the road?

Get an Eye Exam

lensesThere is evidently something wrong with one’s vision if he thinks “get rich schemes” are the way to go. Yet, turn on the television, especially late at night (when smart people should be asleep), and you will find all kinds of infomercials promoting some new scheme that promises wealth with little or no effort. And what is one of the things the hosts of the commercials say? “Act now!Hurry, before this opportunity passes you by! This is a limited-time offer!”

What the get-rich-quick-er has a hard time seeing is the road ahead. He cannot see the turns in the road, the holes in the pavement, and brick wall of poverty which will certainly end his journey.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” – Matthew 6:22-23 ESV

So, before you rush to riches, make sure you get an “eye” exam.