Category Archives: Money and Finances

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.

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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?


Clean Troughs

Proverbs 14:4

Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;
But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.

A long line of tightwads

      I have a disclaimer, everybody:  I come from a long line of tightwads.  When my parents became engaged, a mutual friend quipped that their engagement was an excellent match:  “Jim & Maryanne gettin’ married?  That’s good. They can pinch pennies together.”

In 1982, my parents took me and my two older brothers to visit the World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee.  If you visited the Fair in mid-July of that year, you probably remember us.  We were the teenage boys carrying wilted cheese sandwiches in satchels dangling from our belts (in 92 degree heat and 98% humidity) to avoid the high cost of fairground fare for lunch.

That is to say, I “get it honest”.

I was 20 years old before I bought my first car, a 1973 Plymouth Scamp for which I paid $850. It came complete with a shredded and flapping vinyl top and fenders so rusted out from the salt on the winter highways of Southwest Virginia that I dared not drive the car through a car wash for fear of leaving too many parts behind.  When driving in the rain, water would pour in under the dashboard, soaking shoes, socks, and pants legs. I’m not exaggerating!

Early in our marriage, I can remember having discussions with my new wife concerning the threshold of excessive toilet paper usage.  (Just use your imagination.)  As I type these words, I examine my current attire:  a striped, button-down, long-sleeve shirt which came to me second hand from America’s Thrift Store, a worn pair of khaki pants purchased on sale in a discount clothing store three years ago for around $20, and socks and underwear that are, let’s just say, of mature age.  Only my shoes are of a brand name which you might possibly recognize, a brand and style I am medically required to purchase to give support to my very flat feet.

So today’s proverb is really for me and for others of the dying breed of folk who are allergic to the spending of money.

Expensive critters

Let’s face it:  Oxen are expensive critters to keep around.  It has been scientifically proven that they have to be fed a certain amount to survive.  Oxen require a ready supply of drinking water.  Oxen need routine preventative and maintenance veterinary care.  They need strong fences to contain them.  They need barns for shelter in severe weather.

Thus if you have no oxen in the stall, the trough is “clean”, or perhaps a better rendering would be, “the granary is empty”.  You don’t have to fill the barn with hay, or purchase corn for the crib, if you have no oxen to feed.  It’s much cheaper to own no oxen.

Wise capital investment

However, seen as a capital investment, oxen can bring the wise farmer great financial reward.  Of course the proverb harkens from a pre-industrial age, but the point is obvious.  Oxen drag the plow to cut the sod so that crops can be sown.  Oxen pull the carts and wagons when bringing in the harvest from the fields, and then they haul the harvest to market.  Indeed, “much increase comes by the strength of an ox.”

Investment is risky business.  By its very definition, invested money may be totally lost.  Otherwise healthy-looking oxen drop dead of heart attacks on occasion, I suppose.  But wise, intentional investments create the possibility for wonderful profits.  To interpret the biblical proverb with a proverb from our popular culture, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Two gospel passages

In light of Proverbs 14:4, two New Testament texts come to mind.  The first is the Lord’s parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-20).  Without recounting the parable’s details, I conclude that the Lord’s primary point is to emphasize the miraculous increase of the seed that fell on good ground (verses 8 & 20).  When it comes to our stewardship of the gospel, invest heavily!  Throw caution to the wind!  Proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom everywhere, and although three-fourths of the time it won’t amount to much, we can count on an astonishing, miraculous, God-given increase when the seed of God’s Word does hit the “pay dirt”.  There are so many Christian congregations which have the clean troughs of playing it safe in the ministry.  Our proverb would say, “Go big for the gospel of Jesus Christ!”

The second text is found in Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the talents.  Space does not permit me to retell the passage, but the connection with our proverb is clear enough:  Invest for the master!  Don’t be a scrooge and hide heaven’s riches in a hole in the ground.  Take a chance!  Do something big and bold and risky for the Master!

Father God, make us to be wise and bold investors of all which you have entrusted to us, blessings both temporal and spiritual.  Forgive us when we fail, not for our sake, but for the sake of your own dear Son.  Through Christ our Lord: Amen. 


Honored On a Box

Proverbs 13:18

“Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.”

Cracker Jack Boxes

Years ago I had a great sales manager, Dennis Vauvrunek.  He was great because he was a servant leader; because he was an encourager; and because he tried to bring out the best in his people.

Dennis knew that sales people are competitive by nature. So, in order to showcase the person with the highest numbers each week, he gave away an award – a box of Cracker Jacks.

Now, this was not just any box of Cracker Jacks, but one that had printed on the front the name of the winner and the dollar amount sold. It was amazing how much harder some of us would work when we though someone else might get the box. Sometimes getting that box was more important than a paycheck.

Honor and Reproof

The key to the success of the Cracker Jack box was the natural desire to be honored. The one who received it was considered the “best of the best”…a “go-getter,”…a winner.

But success in any field does not come by accident. Hours and hours of instruction, hands-on training, and learning from one’s mistakes were a prerequisite to being successful. The winners of Cracker Jack boxes were men and women who had been humble enough to accept reproof.

Poverty and Shame

Those who never accept instruction, much less reproof, are usually destined for poverty. Poverty and shame are the wages of pride.

When the industry I was in was active, I made really good money. But making a good living came as the result of dedicated, systematic, hard work. When I trained others to do what I did, I would show them exactly what was needed to be successful. All they had to do was follow my instructions. Those who didn’t went broke. Those who wouldn’t take advice never met their quotas. It didn’t take long before they were gone.

Your Name on a Box

Do you want to succeed in a particular area of life? Do you want to provide for yourself and your family? There is a price to pay. You must be humble.

1 Peter 5:5-6 – “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

What kind of box do you want?


The Hard Way

Proverbs 13:15

“Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.” KJV
“A person with good sense is respected; a treacherous person is headed for destruction.” NLT

 A Hard Life

Every now and then you may encounter people with a look that older than than their age. You may meet a man who is only in his thirties, but looks like he over sixty. A young woman may cross your path that is wrinkled, bent over, and haggard, only to find out that she is 28 years way too old.

What makes people look like they are much older than their chronological age? Hard lives. Lifestyles bent on destruction.

To be fair, there are others that you may see who have been through a lot of pain and suffering due to circumstances beyond their control. These, too, may look older than they actually are. Life has been hard on them. But for many, what they have endured has been the result of a transgressor’s path, and that’s a hard road.

Good Sense

A person that exhibits good sense (“understanding”) is typically a person who takes better care of himself. Good sense says, “Hey, maybe staying up late every night partying until the sun comes up is a bad idea.” Good sense says, “You know, taking that drug might be harmful, not to mention addictive.

Someone with understanding and good sense is also somebody others respect and trust. For example, this type of man or woman is the one who gets the job or promotion. He or she is the one who gets awards and bonuses. They are also the ones who have lower life insurance premiums and rarely have to pay large down payments to purchase anything on credit.

However, the transgressor is the one who nobody really trusts closing the store at night. He’s the one who always calls in sick on Monday morning. Life insurance companies consider him a “high risk” and deny him coverage. And when it comes to buying a house or new car, all he can do is rent.

Advice for the Road

Let me give you some advice. If you are planning on traveling down the “hard road” of life, plan on things never going your way. But don’t think you can blame all of your woes on those with more than you, because they have “understanding;” they can see through your schemes.

Don’t blame the government. Don’t blame the church people. Don’t blame your boss (if you can keep one). Don’t blame anyone for the path that you have chosen.

Also, if you are planning to live a life that transgresses God’s word (His law), don’t blame Him when things don’t go the way you plan. He warned you.

So, when you find yourself living in a run-down motel, remember, Wisdom has been crying out, “You simple people, use good judgment. You foolish people, show some understanding” (Proverbs 8:5 NLT).

When you won’t listen to Wisdom, your way will be hard.