Category Archives: Money and Finances

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.


Flimsy Green Walls

Proverbs 18:11

“The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.”
“The rich think of their wealth as a strong defense; they imagine it to be a high wall of safety” (NLT).

Money

Money is a strange thing. One day it can be worth a lot of, well, money. Then, at the turn of clock, it can become worthless. So many have seen fortunes disappear at the sound of a closing bell.

6 Confederate States of America currency notes...

6 Confederate States of America currency notes three $10 notes 3 $20 notes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Others have seen their wealth deteriorate along with a decline in political stability. Many years ago the southern states (The Confederacy) that broke away from the Union made their own money. After 1865 it all became worthless. There used to be a saying, “Save your Confederate money, boys! The South will rise again!” Oh, well.

The thing that really makes money valuable is what backs it or insures its value. Not too long ago the Dollar was backed by gold; now it backed “by the full faith and credit of the United States government” (Yeah, right). So, in reality, the rich that feel secure in their wealth are only as secure as the government that backs it.

Flimsy Walls

Solomon was the wealthiest man in the world, yet he knew that putting one’s hope in money is foolishness of the highest degree. He calls the wealthy who consider their riches a defense “conceited.”

If wealth is one’s idea of a defense or a wall of protection, then they are flimsy walls, indeed! Ask anyone who was around Wall Street in 1929. The sound of crashing walls was deafening.

A Strong Defense

Thank God for His unfailing protection! “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10).

Money is a wall of security with no inherent strength. It’s might changes with the “full faith and credit” of sinful institutions. Those who trust in it for safety are fools.

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower” (Psalm 18:2).

Praise the LORD!


Perverted Justice

Proverbs 17:23

“A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment.”
“The wicked accept bribes in secret to pervert the course of justice.” -NIV

What “They” Do

Bribes are bad, especially when truth and justice is perverted. That is the main point of this proverb. The wicked man takes a bribe in order to keep justice from going forward.

We’ve seen the movies, read the books, and may have even experienced the results in real life. We are all familiar with what the bad guys typically do. They take money to keep from testifying at a trial. They are given a little off the top to collect a little more from a debtor. They are paid to tell a lie in order to get another bad guy acquitted of a crime. That’s what bad guys do.

Image result for termite damage"I once knew of a pest control company that was bribed to give clearance letters. Builders who wanted to save a few hundred dollars would give fifty to the owner of the company, and in turn he would give the builder a letter stating the new property had been pre-treated for termites. Justice was perverted because the new houses were sold with no protection from termites, and when they did come, the homeowner was usually convinced to pay a large sum to the same pest control company for a termite treatment.

These were bad guys, and that’s what they do.

What “We” Do

What many fail to recognize is the wickedness in their own hearts. It is so easy to judge others, but it is very hard to judge ourselves.

Have you ever given someone money for doing a small job, but then asked the person to not report the money on his tax return? Have you ever said, “If we do this ‘under the table,’ you won’t have to report it, and we’ll both be better off“? If you did, the law was skirted, and justice was perverted. Now who’s the bad guy?

Lord, help us to do what is right at all times, even when doing what is right cost us a little more. Help us to desire justice, not pervert it. 


Gates of Destruction

Proverbs 17:19

“He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.” 
“Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin; whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.” – NIV

Always Arguing

I know people who will argue over anything – and I mean anything. If you say the sky is a pretty shade of blue, they will argue that it isn’t really blue. If you say you like a particular movie, book, or food, they will give you every reason your choices are flawed.

People like that are tiring and have few friends, and they bring it on themselves. They complain that no one likes them, that everyone hates them, and that no one wants to listen to their opinions, but they are the ones responsible for driving everyone away.

This is the type of person being spoken of in this verse. It is the type of person who loves to argue. It is also the person who loves sin.

Loving Sin

It may come as a shock to some, but many who claim to be righteous are really lovers of sin. I know a particular person who willfully admits his failures and flaws, but continues to do the very things that are wrong. He says, “I know I have a problem with (blank), but I know I’ll never change, so I’ll just have to keep asking for forgiveness.

The real problem is that he loves the sin, and therefore refuses to truly repent and “turn from his wicked ways.” His particular sin is his claim to fame, therefore he gets all the more attention. Without it, he wouldn’t be noticed as much.

Inviting Destruction

The second part of this proverb reminds me of what happens to people who choose to park their exotic luxury cars in more than one parking place. They say they do it to keep people from dinging their doors. In reality, they are doing nothing more than inviting a sledge hammer to the fender. I have seen plenty of nice cars that have been “keyed” by irritated “poor” people.

The prideful man is depicted in this verse as building a tall, elaborate gate to protect his belongings. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that his audaciousness is only an invitation to robbers.

The same can be said about Christians who go around bragging about their own spirituality. What fools! Don’t they know that it won’t be long before humility  comes crashing through the gate?

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18

 


Financial Acumen

Proverbs 17:18 

“A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend.”
“It’s poor judgment to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for a friend.” (NLT)

What should you do when a good friend asks you to guarantee his or her debt, or put up security for a home or a loan? Your answer may depend to some extent on your own financial circumstances, but the fact that such advice appears in the book of Proverbs, suggests that wisdom should be involved.

I found myself in this position several years ago. Friends had fallen on hard times, largely because of a lack of wisdom in financial matters. Money from the sale of a house got spent, and eventually they ended up in rented accommodation. My wife and I helped them out as much as we could, but soon realized that he in particular needed to make some changes in approach and attitude to their financial affairs.

Then one day he arrived on the doorstep, and over a cup of coffee asked if I could stand as guarantor for another property he wanted to rent. With a heavy heart I told him I could not, even though he repeatedly told me that there was no risk to me as he would be able to pay the rent. I had no confidence that he could, and I knew that it was wrong to place my family at risk. Eventually, my friend acknowledged that he had to bring his expenditure in line with his income and downsized. We remained friends, although they live in another part of the country now.

If I had stood as guarantor and my friend had defaulted I would have been required to pay his rent. This would have made it difficult for me to meet my own outgoings. I wish I had known about this verse in Proverbs at the time. I remember the bad feeling inside when I refused to help my friend, but it was absolutely the right decision. How much wisdom do we miss out on by failing to study God’s word, and by forgetting to listen for His gentle whisper. 

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV)

Tibetan Bookstore

Proverbs 17:16

Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?” (KJV)
Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?” (NIV)

Our world is constantly pursuing wisdom.

Just look in bookstores, on Amazon.com, and in many ads on TV and at bus stops.

There are numerous self-help books, videos, and seminars. New Age gurus push their spiritual teachings in each of these venues.

Dietitians sell their knowledge.

Parenting experts share their learning.

Pastors sell their understanding.

Financial experts sell their know-how.

Some people buy all of the expensive gear to climb the mountains of Tibet to buy a relic from Tibetan monks.

And yet we keep buying more.

Why?

Because we keep failing. We do not live up to the standards that are set. We do not see results quickly enough. We do not understand why it never works.

That is what this verse is speaking about today.

Our world wants wisdom, but we never want to take the time to understand it.

If we do seek to understand wisdom, we often take whatever is quickest, easiest, or most appealing to our wants, desires, or circumstances.

The catch is that we fail to turn to God with complete honesty.

If they can not be completely honest with God, if they admit He exists, then they do not truly wish to understand wisdom … no matter how much they are willing to pay.

What about you?

Creator God, guide us in all wisdom, and help us to understand. Help us realize that true wisdom is found in Your Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah.


Bribery and Corruption

Proverbs 17:8 

A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.
A bribe is like a lucky charm; whoever gives one will prosper! (NLT)

Other translations of this verse use the word bribe instead of gift. Strong’s translates the word as a donation, bribe, gift, present or reward. Matthew Henry’s take on this proverb is that: ‘Those who set their hearts upon money, will do any thing for it. What influence should the gifts of God have on our hearts!’ What influence indeed?

There is a further warning about gifts/bribes in the book of Exodus when the law was being given to the nation of Israel:

And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous. (Exodus 23:8 KJV)

My first experience of bribery occurred in the 1970s when there was port congestion in the Persian Gulf, and many ships and their crews waited months at anchor for a pilot and a berth in port to discharge or load cargo. I spent three weeks there at anchor in 1975. Each day a small boat would come out to us (and all the other ships) and a man in uniform would demand to see our Captain. Each day the request was the same, “200 cigarettes and a bottle of whisky, Captain, and you get your pilot tomorrow.” No doubt many captains were tempted to provide such a bribe, uncertain of whether the uniformed official had the power to provide a pilot. Our Captain refused to meet such requests. He had other plans. But similar challenges were often faced in other foreign ports when various officials expected to be paid to make things happen. Like the man in the uniform in the Persian Gulf, their hearts had become focused on what they could get in material terms.

I think Matthew Henry got the meaning of this verse absolutely correct. If money and the like are what warm your heart, then eventually you may do anything for the sake of money or gifts. What influence should the gifts of God have on our lives? How are we investing these gifts, and how are they changing our values? Jesus taught that it was more important to seek the Kingdom of Heaven than anything else:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46 NIV)