Category Archives: Money and Finances

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)

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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.


Make Money Fast

Proverbs 28:20 

A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.

It is probable that ‘get rich quick’ schemes have been around since time immemorial. You may ask how they operated in Solomon’s day without a postal service, email, or Internet; but imagine a group of shepherds sitting around the fire one night talking about how poorly they are paid, with no overtime for the night shift, and no possibility of ever matching their employer in terms of wealth. One of them then says, “I met this fellow the other night in The Bethlehem Arms and he told me about a scheme involving something called soap. If we all invest one-quarter of our weekly wages for the next six months, which is only a little bit more than we spend on beer, he will supply us with the ingredients and secret recipe to manufacture soap. Then all we need is a market stall in Jerusalem and voila, we’ll make a fortune and never need to sit out here minding smelly sheep all night again.”

“Soap?!” replies one shepherd, “what is soap, and what do you do with it?” When Getrichqwikamiah replies “you use it to wash your body” the other shepherds all fall around laughing. “Who ever heard of anyone in Jerusalem washing?” shouts one, barely able to get the words out because he is laughing so much.

Solomon wasn’t just talking about people wanting to get rich quick, but about the condition of their hearts when wanting to be wealthy begins to rule their thoughts to the extent that it becomes an obsession. Jesus had opinions on wealth and those who let it dominate their lives. When a cheating tax collector came into contact with Jesus he ended up giving away most of his wealth. But another man with great wealth chose not to surrender his riches, and walked away from Jesus. I love the parable about the barn building landowner and how Jesus summarizes this teaching:

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21 NIV)


Work Hard

Proverbs 28:19

“He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.” (KJV).
“Hard workers have plenty of food; playing around brings poverty.” (NLT).

Common Sense:

Sometimes when I’m reading my Bible I think, “Duh! That’s just common sense!” For example, there is a Proverb that says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (18:24). Of course – that makes total sense. If you’re not friendly – if you’re rough and gruff, rude and crude, you’re not going to attract many friends. But if you are friendly – loving, kind and patient – then you are going to make more friends. It’s so simple – how do we miss it?

Playing Around:

In today’s Proverb, Solomon wisely declares, “He that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.” What is a vain person? That word vain means empty, vain, idle or ethically worthless. Translation? If you’ll excuse my use of a common slang term: A lazy bum. If you hang around with vain, idle or lazy people – playing around – it will lead to poverty. How many times in this wisdom book have we discovered that we become like those we most closely associate with. Walk with the wise and you will become wise. Sit with the lazy, and it will lead to poverty and ruin.

I know of a man who has a hard time keeping a job. For whatever reason, he changes jobs multiple times a year. Whether he just gets bored, or doesn’t like the job anymore, I’m not sure. But it never fails, I keep hearing about how he’s quit his job and is looking for work. More often than not, he is between jobs. Not surprisingly, his son is exactly the same way. Can’t keep a job. Won’t keep a job. Often unemployed. Like father, sadly like son.

Working Hard:

On the other hand, those who till their land – and work hard – will have plenty of food. Those with a strong work ethic, their needs will be taken care of. When we work heartily as unto the Lord, God will bless that.

I got my first job at the age of 16 working at a McDonald’s. The fall after I graduated from high school, I got a job working at a Zellers store at the mall, and for the past 23 years, I have always had a job. There are always jobs available, if someone is willing to work! It might not always be the job you want, but if you want to work, someone is always hiring.

Lord, teach us the value of working hard, and being diligent stewards of all of the resources that you give to us. Help us to look to you as our provider, and trust you to meet all of our needs. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.


If I Were a Rich Man

Proverbs 28:11 

The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.
Rich people may think they are wise, but a poor person with discernment can see right through them. (NLT)

Once again one of the richest men who ever lived is giving the rich a hammering. It seems likely that King Solomon would have encountered most of the richest people in his society, from home and abroad. The question is how many did he hold in high esteem? Not many it would seem if the number of proverbs criticizing the rich is taken as an indicator.

Why did Solomon think so badly of wealthy people? Actually, it is very easy to judge rich people. It seems that the media is constantly reporting on the tomfoolery of pop stars, movie stars, football (soccer) players, and other sports personalities, all of whom seem to have untold wealth when compared with the rest of the population. Most of us would say that it is also undeserved wealth, although in a way we have contributed to that wealth by purchasing music, watching movies, and by buying overpriced tickets for supposedly top-notch sports events.

The last time I took my two youngest children to a Premier League soccer match it cost me over £100 for tickets, travel, etc. I can’t say that I was particularly impressed with the performance of the players, although I always enjoy the atmosphere in the stadium. Sadly it seems that many of the young footballers in the UK Premier League are lacking in wisdom when not on the pitch, and wealth seems to play a huge part in this deficiency.

There are certain responsibilities attached to wealth, the most important being to use wealth wisely. Jesus spoke on the subject in the parable of the talents when surprisingly the servant who had been given the most demonstrated the greatest wisdom in his investments. There is a message in that parable for those of us who consider ourselves wealthy in spiritual terms. Such wealth is useless if it is not invested wisely. Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Where is your wealth and how wisely is it invested and used? And in what ways are you poor, and how does this affect your perception?