Category Archives: Money and Finances

Mexican Haggling

Proverbs 20:14

“It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.” (KJV).
“The buyer haggles over the price, saying, “It’s worthless,” then brags about getting a bargain!” (NLT).

Haggling in Mexico:

In 2005, my mom blessed my wife Liza and me by sending us on a trip to Mexico to celebrate our ten year anniversary. While we were there, we enjoyed relaxing on the beach, reading and resting. There was one thing that Liza wanted to do while we were there: shopping.

I’m not a fan of shopping on the best of days. When Liza and I go to the mall, I will walk around with her for a little while, but inevitably, I will reach my limit and have to go find a food court so I can go sit down with a coffee to hopefully read a good book. But one of the things I wasn’t looking forward to was the obligatory haggling that would ensue on our shopping excursion.

Here’s an example of haggling from an old Monty Python movie…

One time a street vendor approached Liza and tried to sell her some bracelets for $60 each. Now, the bracelets weren’t worth anywhere near that, but my wife didn’t know how to haggle – even though it was welcomed and expected in Mexico. She had paid thirty dollars for a cowboy hat earlier that day (it was hot and she needed it) and we later saw it selling for $10-20 in other shops we entered. I told the vendor that the bracelets were more money than we were willing to pay, and so he offered to sell us three of them for $20 in total. So I bought them for Liza.

The Boasting Buyer:

How does the above story – and the concept of haggling or bartering – apply to today’s Scripture? Solomon is talking about a man who goes to a shop or the market to buy goods and he undervalues them, and says that they are no good, but after purchasing the items for a lower price, he goes away and boasts about his purchase. Does this mean that we shouldn’t haggle or barter for items? Not necessarily.

The issue that Solomon is dealing with here is the dishonest means that some would use to get a good deal. Matthew Henry says, “See how apt men are to be pleased with their gettings and proud of their tricks; whereas a fraud and a lie are what a man ought to be ashamed of, though he have gained ever so much by them.” John Gill also says the Scripture describes a buyer who feels like he has outwitted the seller “and so glories in his frauds and tricks, and rejoices in his boasting, and all such rejoicing is evil.”

So what is the universal principle behind this Bible verse that we can apply to our lives? God wants us to be honest and generous in all of our financial dealings, whether we are buying or selling. No dishonesty. No cheating. No stealing.


Weighty Truth

Proverbs 20:10

“Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.”
“Differing weights and differing measures— the LORD detests them both.” (NIV)

Flattering Scales

I know some people who hate being weighed. They cringe at the thought of stepping on scales. So, to  make things a little easier, they find ways to make adjustments.

Believe it or not, some people (and you know who you are) adjust their bathroom scales to show less than their actual weight. In other words, some people, after stepping out of the shower, would prefer that their scales lie.

They like being flattered, not fattened.

Lying Scales

Balance à tabac

Balance à tabac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This proverb has to do with scales, but here they are called “diverse weights, and diverse measures.” They were used back in the old days for determining the value or authenticity of an item.

For example, if someone said he had an ounce of pure gold, a standardized ounce of pure gold, when set on the other side of the scale, should balance out. If something was off then the scales would tip.

Many times dishonest merchants would cheat their customers by using “diverse” weights, or weights that said they weighed a certain amount, but didn’t. God hates lying, even when it involves weights.

Heavy Truth

Sometimes the truth may seem too heavy to bear. It may be disappointing to know how much we actually weigh. Those who have flattering scales in their bathrooms are often brought back to reality when they have to visit a doctor – their scales don’t lie.

What is wrong with a little scale tampering every now and then? The problem is that a lying scale leads people to believe a lie is the truth. With God there is no room for error or falsehood. Jesus is the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life.

There is no coming to God by way of a faulty scale.


Inherited Blessings

Proverbs 20:7

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (KJV)
The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them. (NIV)

Walking in Integrity?

You may have noticed that there are not many people who walk with integrity in our world.

Many people find an error on their receipt and keep the excess change (although recently a relief pitcher for the baseball team the San Francisco Giants, Jeremy Affelft, discovered a half million dollar mistake in his paycheck, and returned it!), though it could cost someone their job.

Many people cut off others in traffic to save themselves time or drive slower to “keep themselves safer,” when in truth they may be causing accidents and delays.

There are a myriad of ways people do not walk in integrity, from relationships to finances to business even to church.

However, those who walk in integrity are held blameless by their families, friends, and communities. Whether it is financial, moral, or relational, those who walk in integrity leave many blessings for their children.

A Blessing with a Warning

The children of a person of integrity find that they are blessed with some influence.

People are willing to trust them because of who their parents were. Some people find they have enough money to influence others’ responses.

The wise will use this influence to make their world better. The godly will use this influence to make an impact for Christ.

However, as David and Solomon’s children demonstrated, that influence can also be used to burden and curse others.

The choice is ours how we use what our parents have left for us.

If they left us an example of integrity, may we follow that example.

If they left us an example of selfishness, pride, and violence, may we choose to follow the example of Christ and set a new example of integrity for our children.

Wise Lord, help us break the cycle of our families to walk in the integrity of Christ. Help us to live lives that are pleasing to You and blameless in the sight of our eyes, for Your glory.


Of Salt and Slugs

Proverbs 20:4

“The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.”

Get a Job

You’ve probably heard someone yell out the window of a car, “Get a job!” I know I have. And if I had never heard it I know I have thought it. Every once in a while I see a person with a cardboard sign and think to myself, “Why don’t you get a real job, instead of making more than me?”

We should really be careful when we see people begging for work, for food, or for money. Unless we have followed a person around for a while, we don’t know what he has gone through. We should be more careful before we pass judgment.

Really, Get a Job

BUT, there are many people who really do end up begging others for basic needs all because of their laziness. There are people who refuse to spend any energy doing whatever it takes to feed themselves, much less their families.

I don’t want pity, nor am I bragging, but there was a time when I had to work 3-4 jobs at a time in order to keep my wife and daughters out of a shelter and in a house. I know what it is like to work in a dangerous factory during the week, deliver pizzas at night, wash dishes all weekend, and deliver news papers on Sunday morning. I know what it is like to plow in winter.

Salt or Snail?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The lazy person is called a “sluggard.” The name causes one to envision a long, slow-moving, slimy snail. The “sluggard” refuses to get up an do anything because work is hard. He chooses to wait until the “time is right,” but the right time never comes. Then, when hunger comes, he begs, complains, accuses others, and demands his “rights.”

Unfortunately, many societies encourage “sluggards.” They reward them with everything they want, including food, shelter, clothing, and cell phones. Sadly, some healthy Christians think it is appropriate to live off of certain programs, rather than work, but…

You can’t be the salt and light of the earth while acting like a snail.

 


Rich Slaves

Proverbs 19:10

“Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.”
“It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury— how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!”(NIV)

Foolish Delights

Recently, Anthony wrote about those who win the lottery. They seem to be happy, and they find a sudden influx of friends and family to help them with their money!

It really depends on who you talk to or believe, but most reports show that the majority of major prize lottery winners are bankrupt inside of a few years.

The biggest reason, of course, is that they were foolish with their money when they had none, and that that habit does not change when they get much.

The same happens when spiritual leaders follow bad theology. They tried handling matters in their own lives, and they figured they could handle matters of God, as well. This is where too many churches and denominations can get off track. This is also where we get cults.

Of Slaves and Princes

Another danger of the poor suddenly becoming rich is that they may use their newfound influence to get back at established wealth. They might try to show off, to prove themselves (which can help lead to their bankruptcy).

This also can be a danger with religious leaders. When some parishioners get upset with how churches are being run, they may get ordained and/or start a new church. Again, this is where too many churches and denominations can get off track, and where we get cults.

How this can be good news comes through how God redeems everything.

John 8:34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. (NIV)

We are all slaves to sin … until Jesus came along to make us righteous:

Romans 6:17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (NIV)

As the redeemed of Christ, we become co-heirs in Christ and will rule over this world (Romans 8, Revelation 20).

It is only worse for slaves to rule over princes if the princes are of this world and slaves to sin.

Prince of Peace rich in grace, help us be wise with what You have entrusted to us, and if we must be slaves may it be to Your righteousness. Rule in our hearts and minds. Rule over our lives.


He Says “Come”

Proverbs 19:7

“All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.”
“The poor are shunned by all their relatives– how much more do their friends avoid them! Though the poor pursue them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found.” – NIV

Poor and Lonely

How sad is it that when a person has nothing, even his own family will avoid him? This happens a lot, especially to people who are in need. Nobody seems to want to hang out around people who are poor. Being poor and needy can make one awfully lonely.

I know some people who need family and friends. They need support and encouragement, but none can be found. Why? The family and “friends” say, “The only time they call is when they want something.”

In reality, many of the poor in this world are poor as a result of their own unwise choices. But there are also many more who are needy out of no real fault of their own. They are the ones that could truly benefit from a caring family member or friend.

Closer than a Brother

In reality, a real friend or brother would not run from one in need. “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17 KJV

All I know is that I am thankful that the richest one in the universe never ran from me. Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother and understands what it means to be rejected.

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” – Isaiah 53:2-3 KJV

I am so thankful that I serve a loving and generous God who not only knows my needs and doesn’t run away, but calls all men unto Himself…

“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink– even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk– it’s all free!” – Isaiah 55:1 NLT

 


Friend to the Giver (Money Or Marbles)

Proverbs 19:6

“Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.”

Lottery Winners

If there is anything I wish I could be, while at the same time being happy I am not, it’s a lottery winner. Who would not want to suddenly come into a boat load of money, right? But then again, who would really want to have all those “friends.”

Sometimes when I scroll down through my list of “friends” on Facebook I am amazed at how many I don’t even know. I have several hundred friends on Facebook, but only a few of them would come to a party if I invited them. On the other hand, if I were to win the lottery…well…there wouldn’t be enough room to hold all the “friends” that would show up.

One thing that lottery winners find out when they win is that one is never short of cousins in need of life-or-death surgery and the cash to pay for it. When one has money there is always somebody who wants to be his friend – or relative.

Gift Givers

I have known people who love to give nice gifts. I have known a few other people who love to give really nice gifts, but for the wrong reasons. One of the saddest things to witness is when a person gives an expensive gift in hopes that another will become a friend.

There once was a little girl on the school bus I drove whom most of the other kids seriously disliked. She was loud, whiny, spoiled, and usually complaining that everything was “unfair.” One day, however, she started handing out marbles to every child that got on the bus. “Here’s your free marble,” she would say with a sugary smile. “It’s free! You can keep it!”

“Why are you giving away all your marbles?” I asked. “You don’t have a lot, to begin with. You should probably keep what you have” (yes, I said it).

“If I give them free marbles,” she said, “they won’t hate me…they’ll be my friends.” How sad is that? “That’s not how you make real friends,” I told her. “If you want to have friends ‘you must show yourself friendly.'”

Then, as if on cue, a first-grader boy said, “Yeah, nobody hates you; we just don’t like you.”

The Best Gifts

Today’s proverb is more about how people are nice to the ones in power and cozy up to the ones who are liberal with their funds. So, for the most part there is nothing really encouraging about this proverb, except in that it should cause us to be careful with who we call “friend.”

Therefore, let me encourage you with the following passage from Luke. We may not be lottery winners or know anyone who is, but we do have access to the throne room of the Heavenly King, our Father.

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” – Luke 11:9-13 NIV

 


Blessed Are the Rich …

Proverbs 19:4

“Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.”

New Warnings

In light of some of Jesus’ words, this verse makes little sense.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 19:23

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:3

The verse today seems to say “Blessed are the rich, and how hard it is for the poor!”

And it is.

Different Thinking

This proverb is stating something that is obvious to almost everyone.

When someone has money, it is pretty easy for them to make friends. They appear more trustworthy, and they can give the best gifts.

Wealth seems to give people confidence, so they will not worry about the small things in life. There is a tendency to handle finances well (Think of the book written by a wealthy man, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”), and this builds good credit and more wealth.

When someone has little money, they may still make friends, but they may not always be considered trustworthy (whether or not this is justified).

Being poor tends to draw away from confidence, because they need to worry about the small things in life (they seem much bigger). They may not handle their finances well, and, as evidenced in the past five years, they will be literally separated from their neighbors through foreclosure and/or eviction.

Thinking Differently

Regardless of our financial circumstances, may we change our mindset to things above.

When we are poor in love, mercy, and grace toward each other, it proves we are poor in love for God. We will find ourselves ultimately separated from God (who called Christians “friends” in John 15:15).

When we are rich in love, mercy, and grace toward each other, it proves we are rich in love for God. We enter into a fellowship with God and a family of millions throughout history.

Father, give us financial wisdom, but more importantly increase our wealth in love, mercy, and grace. May our friends be eternal in You.


It’s Our Own Fault!

Proverbs 19:3

“The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.”
“People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.” – NLT

Profound

When I read this verse in the King James version, the reality of what it was saying didn’t strike me at first. Then I read it in the New Living Translation, and that is when I turned around to my wife (who was behind me in the kitchen working on a wedding cake) and said, “This has got to be about the most profound verse I’ve ever read!”

Of course, every verse in the Bible is profound. But when it hit me what this verse was really saying, I could see its truth painted across the landscape of humanity. This one little verse sums up the situation with probably every human being on Earth.

Man Perverteth

This is the fact that so many want to avoid – it’s OUR fault! Foolishness, craziness, stupidity, and all the other things that go along with man wanting to do things his own way – these are the things that pervert our ways. WE are our own worst enemies. WE freely mess up our own lives every time we spite God.

The word “pervert” tells us that at one point there was something good, healthy, and whole. God gives us something wonderful, then we foolishly corrupt, stain, and scar it with our rebellion. It is something we do because we want to; we are not forced.

Man Get’s Angry

Yes, we mess up our own lives with stupid decisions. Our own foolishness is at fault. Yet, what does man do? He blames God.

I can’t even begin to tell you of all the people I have encountered who blame the Lord for their problems.

  • The drunk blames God for his poverty and liver disease.
  • The prayer-less minister blames God for a lack of power.
  • The smoker calls God “cruel” for letting him get lung cancer.
  • The teenager blames God for allowing her to get pregnant.
  • The abusive husband blames God for his marriage problems.
  • The irresponsible worker blames God for getting fired.
  • The gambler blames God for letting him lose all his money.
  • The disgruntled wife blames God for her lack of intimacy.
  • The selfish and self-centered curse God when He gives them freedom.

I wonder how many times King Solomon, as he sat and judged the people, wanted to scream out, “It’s your own stupid fault!” Did he ever have people thrown into prison after blaming the Lord for their own foolishness? I wonder.

Heavenly Father, we mess up when we don’t do things your way. Most of the time we know better, but choose to follow our own desires, anyway. Forgive us for blaming you. Forgive us for our arrogance. Create in us a humble heart that is obedient. Help us not to pervert what you have given us.


Greasing the Skids

Proverbs 18:16

“A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.”

Wise Investing

You have seen it done in the movies, and maybe in real life. A man walks in to a nice restaurant and finds that no tables are available, but when he pulls out a $50 bill all of a sudden a place is found. That is more like bribery, not what Solomon is talking about here.

What Solomon is telling us in this verse is that gifts can be a wise investment – investments that can offer great returns in the form of privilege and audience. And it’s not about bribery but common decency, respect, manners, and wisdom.

Playing Smart

There is nothing wrong or un-biblical about playing smart. In many ways life is a game, and the ones who play by the rules are more likely to come out ahead in the end. It doesn’t always work out, but acting with intentional respect can have a road-paving effect on one’s life and career.

Essentially, if you want to be included in certain circles or have audiences before “great men,” being selfish, stingy, and arrogant is not a good first step in the right direction. One can “grease the skids” with a little gift and a nice card. Even a kind deed done on one’s behalf is a gift that may prove beneficial in the future. Consider the following story…

Mordecai’s Good Deed

“During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai.” – Esther 2:21-22 NIV

Later…

“That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked. “Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.” – Esther 6:1-3 NIV

Mordecai’s gift of honesty and bravery was rewarded when the time was right. Room was made for him as he was brought before great men.

Key to Giving

But there is one very important thing to remember: when you do give gifts, don’t expect anything in return. A bribe is not a gift. A true gift is not a bribe.