Tag Archives: Finances

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?

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“Everybody’s Got Problems”

Proverbs 13:8

“The ransom of a man’s life [are] his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.”

A Wise Dad

One of the things I loved about my father was his ability to find the lighter side to any subject. He had the uncanny ability to find the faintest silver lining around the biggest, darkest cloud. That might explain why growing up poor wasn’t so bad.

Here are a few good examples of how my dad would look at things…

  • When he saw a horribly ugly dog, he said, “Well, he’s got white teeth.”
  • When he (and I) got hurt at work, he would say, “You haven’t worked until you shed some blood.
  • When we had to move into a house that had no running water, electricity or telephone, and the sky could be seen between the boards on the walls, he would say something like, “Hey! It’s almost like camping out!”

And when it came to being poor, my dad knew how to keep things in perspective. He would remind us that being rich wasn’t all fun and games, but worry and stress, too. “The more money you have, the more you have to watch your back,” he would say. “But when you ain’t got noth’n, you ain’t got noth’n to steal.

A Wise Proverb

Today’s proverb is trying to tell us that wealth may not be a bad thing, but it does have some inherent risks. The more wealth you have, the more likely someone will want to take it. And, the more money one has, the more he has to spend to stay alive.

On the other hand, as the second part of the verse points out, those who have less are less likely to listen to an extortioner or be kidnapped for ransom. He is more likely to say, “Sorry, but you can’t get blood from a turnip.”

The ESV translates it this way, “The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth, but a poor man hears no threat.”

Be Content

If there is anything else my dad would say, it would be this: “Be content with what you have, cause everybody’s got their own problems.” Don’t be so upset if you’re not wealthy; life for the rich may be a bed of roses, but with roses come a lot of thorns. That’s why the poor can sleep easier.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” – Philippians 4:11 KJV

“If you’ve got it, be thankful. If you ain’t got it, be glad.” 


Just Say “NO!”

Proverbs 11:15

“He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.”

Proverbs 11:15, 16, & 17 are connected in that each involves someone who acts with kindness, but with varied results.  In tonight’s verse, we consider a kindness that brings injury; in tomorrow’s, a kindness that brings honor; and in the third instance, a kindness that brings benefit.

A KINDNESS THAT BRINGS INJURY

In the first half of verse 15, we read, “He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it,” or as the ESV reads, “Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm.”  Solomon returns here to a theme he has already elaborated upon at length in Proverbs 6:1-5.  The idea is fairly straightforward in both texts.  So, somebody asks you to lend him a hand by cosigning on a loan… what is the “Christian” thing to do?  The problem is that you like to be liked. You want to come across as a decent and generous person.  You want to be helpful.  So you cosign on the automobile, or mortgage, or student loan, or credit card offer.  And now, my friend, you have obligated yourself in regard to the other’s ability to earn, budget, and spend income.  Unless you are that individual’s mother, that’s an awkward spot to be in.  No, I take that back.  Even if you are that individual’s mother, that’s an awkward spot to be in.  You have absolutely no leverage in the situation.

NOW GUESS WHAT?

You’re on the hook if and when the person defaults on repayment.  If your name is signed on the bottom line, the creditor can and will come after you.  The FTC tells us that in as many as 3 out of 4 loans that go into default, the cosigners are asked to repay the loans.  Think about it.  When you cosign a loan, you are taking a risk which the professional lenders have refused to take.  If the borrower could meet the lender’s criteria, there would be no need for a cosigner in the first place.  http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre06.shtm

NEWSFLASH

Jesus didn’t die to make you “nice.” No, he died to make you His!  Sometimes the “Christian” thing to do is to ask, “Have you totally lost your mind?  You can’t afford that car, or house, or new TV!  Save some money for it and pay cash!”

A FIRM, WISE “NO”

In the second half of the verse we read, “And he that hateth suretiship is sure.”  Oh, the security and peace of mind enjoyed by the one who has not entered hastily into business agreements!  Years ago, First Lady Nancy Reagan, as she spearheaded a campaign against drug abuse, popularized the slogan, “Just Say No.”  The same firm “No!” might well be in order the next time someone approaches you about helping him with a loan.

Father God, thank you that when you see us, you see the righteousness of your own dear Son.  Thank you that our security and identity are in Christ.  Free us, Father, from the need to be people-pleasers to our own harm. Through Christ our Lord: Amen.    


Gather Now!

Proverbs 10:5

“He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.”

Of Ants and Grasshoppers and Men

Many have heard of Aesop’s fable about an ant and a grasshopper. The grasshopper spends the summer having fun and not working. (My wife and I can understand that, as we both currently work in schools with summers off!) The ant works hard all summer saving up food for the winter months. When winter comes, the grasshopper is starving while the ant is thriving. Some versions show the message of grace by having the ant share some of its food with the grasshopper. (Darker versions only have the ant rebuking the grasshopper … who dies.)

The moral is that idleness and laziness can lead to ruin, but hard work pays off for tomorrow.

One of the problems of the so-called welfare state, in which the government covers most or all of individuals’ needs, is that many people become, well, lazy and dependent. This is the main reason most political conservatives distrust government programs which support people, such as prolonged unemployment benefits.

God’s Thoughts

One of my favorite passages from the Bible, Matthew 25,  includes the parables of the Ten Virgins, the Talents, and the Sheep and the Goats. They all have the same point: do not spend your time fooling around, but be prepared.

Sure, we are commanded to not worry about tomorrow, but the best way to not worry is to be prepared!

This is a good time to remind us all that these parables, and therefore today’s proverb, tell us that we cannot rest with an understanding that we are safe, that “I am saved!”

Jesus came to seek and save the lost, sure, but it came with a call: love others. A Christian’s salvation is evidenced by showing love to others; by feeding the hungry and clothing the naked; by weeping with the broken-hearted and healing the hurt; by seeking and reaching out to the lost; by preparing our hearts by drawing near to Him.

Great Lord, we thank You for having a plan for and saving us. Help us to not only prepare for our near future, to be good stewards of what You have given us, but also help us to prepare for eternity. Grow Your love in us, that we may love as You love.


Thoughts On Co-signing

Proverbs 6:1-5

1My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger,
2Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.
3Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.
4Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.
5Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Practical Wisdom

When it comes to the wisdom of Proverbs, some think it’s all spiritual. Much like the person who thinks faith should be kept out of everything secular, such as politics or the workplace, these people assume biblical wisdom is incompatible with everyday life. How wrong they are!

Today’s passage is a lesson in financial wisdom. Here, Solomon is addressing the dangers of unwisely obligating one’s self to a creditor (stranger) on behalf of a friend.

Unsure Surety

There is nothing wrong with helping a friend. As a matter of fact, it was Paul who told Philemon that if Onesimus owed him anything to “put that on my account…I will repay” (Phil. 1:18-19). Helping someone out when they are truly in need, especially when you have the ability, is the right thing to do.

“If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.” – Deuteronomy 15:7-8 NIV

However, Solomon is warning that we should be very careful when entering agreements (striking hands) on behalf of others, even our friends. You see, to be a “surety” for someone means guaranteeing the lender your friend will pay his debt. The problem comes when you end up owing what you cannot pay, therefore putting your family and your self at risk.

“Can You Co-Sign for Me?”

How many times have you been asked to co-sign on a loan? How many times have you had a brother-in-law ask for help starting a business that “can’t fail?” How many times have you felt sorry for someone, only to get burned in the end?

Many times we want to help our friends and loved ones, but end up snared by people we don’t even know. “I’ll help you this time,” we say. Then, a few months later, Hunter Loan Company is tracking us like deer.

Spiritual Application

There is a practical, yet spiritual principle to be found in the following verse: “[If] any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8). The principle is “if you can barely afford to take care of your own family, don’t make financial commitments you can’t keep.”

Solomon says that even if you have become surety for a friend, prove his friendship – get him to relieve you of your obligation. Otherwise, when the rubber check hits the road, you risk losing not only your money, but your good name, your friend, and even your faith.


Birds and Money are the Same…

Proverbs 23:4-5

“Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for [riches] certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” (KJV)

“Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.” (NASB)

The Birds

In the movie Rio, Blu is a blue macaw with a human friend, Linda. Blu is the last male of his kind, and he is sought out by an ornithologist from Brazil, Túlio, who intends to take the bird back with him to save the species. Linda is convinced by Túlio to travel to Brazil with him and to take Blu to meet the other bird.

While they are there, Blu and the female macaw, Jewel, are bird-napped and sold to three men who are bird smugglers. The leader of the group plans to sell the birds for an insane price and therefore become rich.

RioA very long journey takes place to try and get back to Linda, and Blu and Jewel escape and everything turns out just fine. However, the thieves didn’t plan on their way of income literally flying away from them. After all, the birds were locked up in a cage!

The Verses

It’s like this movie was made for these verses! The thieves were so concerned with their wealth, they didn’t stop to consider losing it all even when they thought they were set and everything was working to their advantage.

When you have wealth, do not set your eyes on it and continue to weary yourself to get more. Money is losing its value at an alarming rate, and even the wind can carry it away if you are not careful.

Don’t forget that your wealth may just fly way. Instead, consider these verses:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” -Matthew 6:19-21


How to Get Ahead

Proverbs 22:29

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean [men].”
“Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” – ESV
Victims

True victims should be pitied and cared for; those with a victim attitude should not. Oh, we should care, sure, but there comes a point when people need to quit blaming their lack of progress on others.

I know what it is like to lose everything. I know what it is like to go from making good money to having to work multiple jobs just to feed my family. But many will not lift a finger for themselves, while all along condemning those who have worked for what they have. They live as victims of their own laziness.

Just the other day I overheard a conversation a manager was having with an employee. The manager tried to encourage the employee to seek a better position in the company, but the employee would not accept. The reason she gave was that if she moved into a better paying position she would lose some of her welfare benefits. She would rather live on what was given to her than work for anything.

Victors

Look at the working man. Look at what he is doing and how he is doing it. He is diligent, which means he does the best he can as promptly as he can. He cares about his work, no matter what that work is.

There once was a waiter at  a particular restaurant. One day the restaurant changed their menu and began offering Pepsi instead of Coca-Cola. When a customer was saddened by the change, the waiter went around the corner to a convenience store, bought a Coke, and brought it to the table. He was diligent in his business.

Not long after the Pepsi/Coke incident we discovered the waiter had left the restaurant! When we asked where he went we were informed he had been promoted – to manage his own restaurant!

Visible

When a person wants to get ahead in life, the last thing he needs is to be invisible.  Look at the man who does his best and works hard – look at the man who hones his skills and fine-tunes his gifts – and you will find a man who gets noticed.

If you want to be considered worthy to stand in the presence of kings, do work that is worthy to be noticed by kings.

Don’t be a victim – be a victor! You will get noticed.