Category Archives: Money and Finances

What is my goal for wealth?

I have a goal. I have a plan. I have dreams. They involve money.

What does wisdom say about that?

  • What is my goal for wealth? I am overwhelmed with messages about wealth and retirement. They are everywhere I turn. Jesus says “Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bankrobbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” (Luke 12:33-34)
  • Am I willing to wear myself out to get it? Trying to get wealthy will wear me out. There just enough hours in the day and there is always more to do.
  • Do I understand that wealth is fleeting? Jesus says “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
  • What is God’s goal? God’s goal for me is focus on Jesus and being a good citizen of the Kingdom of God. God wants me to love. God wants me to use my money to be generous to others.

“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich;
    restrain yourself!
Riches disappear in the blink of an eye;
    wealth sprouts wings
    and flies off into the wild blue yonder.” ~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 23:4-5

This proverb does not condemn wealth; it warns against the pursuit of wealth. Ecclesiastes also warns about pursuit of wealth and its inability to satisfy (Eccl 5:10).

It describes two situations: In one, a person pursues wealth but never enjoys it or finds satisfaction (Eccl 4:7–8). In the second, someone loses all their wealth and is left with nothing (Eccl 5:13–17).

These verses warn against overwork for the sake of gaining riches. This speaks not against being industrious but against consuming oneself for money. Wise restraint in this area (as well as in what one eats at a banquet, vv. 1–2) is needed, especially in the present day when materialism drives many people to excessive workloads in order to accumulate more money.

The reason for this advice is that riches are temporary and unstable .The first part of 23:5 is literally, “If you cause your eyes to fly after it” (i.e., wealth). Ironically, flying after wealth results in wealth flying away like an eagle.

 

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Am I mocking the poor?

Jesus is clear that we will always have poor people with us. We always have. We always will. That isn’t the issue.

Whoever mocks poor people insults their Creator; gloating over misfortune is a punishable crime. ~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 17:5 (The Message Bible)

Jesus challenges me to give directly to the poor. I am to do what I can to help. God’s goal for me is to love. Jesus challenges me to not judge. I don’t need to understand why someone is poor. God knows why.

Insulting and mocking the poor is insulting God. It is wrong and it is criminal. It is a moral failure on my part when I do it. I will be held accountable for what I say and do. I will be held accountable to God’s standard of love.

We should assess our leaders on their attitude about the poor. Do they love the poor? Do they help the poor? Do they “judge” the motives of the poor?

“Misfortune” does happen. It is possible, to get laid off from work and become poor. I shouldn’t gloat over that. My goal is to love.

I believe that Jesus wants us to do everything we can to help the poor and those who do not have a place to live. We are to care for the hungry and feed them. We are to care for the thirsty and give them something to drink.We are to care for the stranger and invite them into our home. We are to care for the naked and give them clothing. We are to care for the sick. We are to care for those in prison and visit them. These are the clear expectations of Jesus (Matthew 25:34-40).

  • As Jesus remarked to Judas Iscariot, ‘You always have the poor with you’ (John 12:8). Looking around at the cities, towns and refugee camps of our world, we might make this remark more specific and say, ‘we always have the homeless with us.’ Jesus had some powerful things to say about the situation of the homeless, and did many things for them. He was also a homeless person himself.
  • The Bible speaks plainly about poverty: “If any of your Israelite relatives fall into poverty and cannot support themselves, support them as you would a resident foreigner and allow them to live with you. Do not demand an advance or charge interest on the money you lend them. Instead, show your fear of God by letting them live with you as your relatives” (Leviticus 25:35-36 ).
  • “No, the kind of fasting I want calls you to free those who are wrongly imprisoned and to stop oppressing those who work for you. Treat them fairly and give them what they earn. I want you to share your food with the hungry and to welcome poor wanderers into your homes. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. If you do these things, your salvation will come like the dawn. Yes, your healing will come quickly. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind” (Isaiah 58:6-8).
  • Then the King will say to those on the right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Then these righteous ones will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ And the King will tell them, `I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” (Matthew 25:34-40).
  • So many people ignore the poor and homeless, partly because they believe there is little they can do to “fix” them. And they are absolutely right. In fact, it is not God’s intention that we “fix” them any more than it is His intention that they “fix” us. It is God’s intent that they follow Jesus as their King and savior.
  • Jesus tells us that we are one body in the Messiah. Everyone — rich, poor, every race, every age — has a legitimate role to play in that body. We may go to a homeless camp or an orphanage or a rest home with the intention of helping someone else, but ultimately, we will be helping each other grow together into the body the Messiah envisioned from the beginning of time.

Know-It-All’s Usually Don’t

Proverbs 13:7 stood out to me this morning.

“One man pretends to be rich but has nothing; another pretends to be poor but has great wealth.” – Proverbs 13:7 CSB

The obvious meaning has to do with tangible wealth. So often we see people who give the impression of being wealthy by the cars they drive, the clothes they wear, and the houses they live in. Yet, in many of those cases, the appearance of wealth is all they have.

Sadly, the same holds true with many who appear to be spiritual and wise. Everything on the appearance seems to point toward a godly life, one full of the Spirit and one that walks daily with the Lord. However, so often what we find once the bank account of the heart becomes public is that the spiritual wealth was only pretend – they had nothing.

One red flag to look for in both cases – tangible wealth and spiritual wealth – is how much the wealth is flaunted. So many times the most unassuming are the most wealthy.


Appreciate What You Have

The following are three different translations of the same verse:

The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious. – Proverbs 12:27 KJV

A lazy hunter doesn’t roast his game, but to a diligent person, his wealth is precious. – Proverbs 12:27 CSB

Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find. – Proverbs 12:27 NLT

However you look at it, according to this verse there are two types of people in this world: those who don’t care about what they have and those who do.

The slothful or lazy hunter – lazy people in general – are so often the most blessed people in the world. I mean, seriously, isn’t it the case where so often they have more than they need, more than enough to make something of themselves, yet let it all rot?

People today are so far removed from those of “the greatest generation” that they have no idea how good they actually have it. The poorest people in America are richer than many of the wealthy in other countries, and what they can waste on a daily basis is proof positive.

But to the diligent person…the person who works hard…the person who doesn’t expect a handout, but understands the value of persistence…the one who knows that tomorrow’s hunt might not go as well…the one who is grateful for what he has…what he has is precious, because he appreciates what it took to possess it.

Remember that “the LORD your God gives you the power to gain wealth” (Deut. 8:18), and whatever you collect in the hunting trip of life is ultimately a reflection of the mercy of God. Don’t take it for granted, and for heaven’s sake don’t waste it.


Just Weight and See

A false balance is abomination to the Lord : but a just weight is his delight. When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them. -Proverbs 11:1‭-‬3 KJV

Dishonesty, or lying, is an abomination to God. Think about: He made it one of the 10 commandments! (#9, Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20)

Dishonesty denies the image of God in others. It is the same as saying other people are worthless.

It also leads to problems.

False Balances

Something to arise in the most recent recession (about 2008) was the business of buying gold. You can bring in your jewelry and knickknacks to be weighed and sold based on the current market value. If a merchant used poorly (or fraudulently) calibrated scales, they could pay you far less than the current value. (I spent a very short time doing this, and they usually purchased an average of 15% below market value to make a profit.)

Who does it profit? Obviously the merchant.

Wait and See

One positive to government regulation is that there are frequent inspections to stop people from falsifying their scales. Those caught had to pay huge fines and permanently close up shop. At worst, they also went to jail.

When dishonesty is used, it is usually found out. Just look at the news on almost any given day, when business and government leaders are caught in the act of deceiving people.

Usually, it is because their pride convinces them that they are smarter than everyone else or that they are above everyone else, that the rules don’t apply to them.

But wait and see, their deeds will catch up to them.

It may not be in this life, but there will be consequences.

However, living honestly and with integrity not only protects you from bad consequences in this life, but it can lead you to live like God, who cannot lie (Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18), and to Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life.


Debts & Promises

My son, if you become surety for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Proverbs 6:1‭-‬5, NKJV

Co-signed

Have you ever needed to take out a loan or get a service (cable, telephone, electricity, etc.), but your credit was … lacking? You need a co-signer to get that loan or service.

Perhaps you have been on the other side and have been the co-signer. It can be scary either way. I have been on both sides.

I have had to pay debts friends and family could not pay, and sometimes it was a struggle financially.

This could be a lesson on Christ’s sacrifice posting our debt of sin. Instead, this is about seeing how our promises can catch us.

Leaving the Altar

You see, our commitments have effects on others. We promise to pay that bill. We promise to be at that event. We promise to carry our fair share.

And then we don’t.

We put up the strong front and commit to keeping other promises.

Say, tithing.

But Jesus says, “if you bring your gift to the altar, and then remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and first go be reconciled to your brother before returning to offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23‭-‬24)

In other words, humble yourself, and do what is right.

If as the one who owes, confess your wrong or inability and seek forgiveness. If as the one who is owed, forgive the debt (of the promise, of the burden) and move on (possibly through making a plan or as simply releasing all responsibility).

The big point is to hold onto the relationship above all else.

That is why Jesus sacrificed glory, comfort, and life: to forgive our debts and broken promises to restore the relationship. And He arose to guarentee it for eternity.


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).