Tag Archives: Poverty

Topsy-Turvy Teaching

Proverbs 10:15

“The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.”

The Rich and the Poor

It seems to me that wealth needs poverty to exist. In Western terms I am not wealthy, but I am not poor. But in the eyes of the poor, wherever they live, I am a billionaire. Why? Because they do not have what I have, and may see no way to achieve such relative wealth. Is it right that what I have is made possible because someone else has less? How much is too much? What do I need to keep and what should I give away?

Wise Investments

Whatever we have been given, we need to make sure that we invest it wisely. In the parable of the talents Jesus taught about two servants who invested wisely and one who did not. Burying what we have in the ground is not wise, and does not create a strong city! However, Jesus also watched as a poor widow put everything she had into the offertory box. Was that the sensible thing to do? Did it destroy the widow? We don’t know. The only thing we do know is that Jesus saw more in the poor widow than he saw in those with greater wealth. Immediately before Jesus pointed out the widow to his disciples He heavily criticized the richer teachers of the law. Jesus said that these people ‘devoured the houses of widows.’ In other words the wealth of the teachers of the law relied on the poverty of the widow, for whom they did absolutely nothing.

Good to be Rich?

While most of us are never going to excessively rich in monetary terms, we can be rich in wisdom, knowledge, and in our relationship with God. These three things should govern how we manage whatever wealth we have received. But the point here is that whether we consider ourselves rich or poor it really doesn’t matter. We enter this world with nothing and we leave in the same way. Far more important is what we do with what God has given us while we reside on Earth. Whether we are good or bad, rich or poor, God is watching us. He sees and hears everything. But He also looks deep inside to the riches or poverty within. Jesus said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3 NIV)

Welcome to the topsy-turvy teaching of the Son of God. When we think we are rich, we are actually poor. But those who know they are poor have access to riches untold.

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Don’t Be Lazy!

Proverbs 6:9-11

“How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.”

Lazy Quotes:

Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired. ~Jules Renard

Benjamin Franklin put is this way:

“Laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him.”

Eleanor Roosevelt said this about being lazy:

“So much attention is paid to the aggressive sins, such as violence and cruelty and greed with all their tragic effects, that too little attention is paid to the passive sins, such as apathy and laziness, which in the long run can have a more devastating effect.”

Enemies that Destroy:

Eleanor Roosevelt must have read the words of Solomon in chapter 6 of Proverbs when she wrote those words. In this chapter, Solomon is addressing three enemies that can have a devastating effect on a person financially, physically, morally, or spiritually:

  1. Unwise Financial Commitments (Proverbial ThoughtProverbs 6: 1-5)
  2. Laziness – Proverbs 6-11 (Proverbial ThoughtProverbs 6:6-8)
  3. Lust – Proverbs 20-35

When You Least Expect It

Verses 9 and 10 describe exactly who the lazy person is (a sluggard), while verse 11 explains what is going to happen to that person. While the sluggard is busy doing nothing – they become poor (thy poverty) and do not even realize it. I like the way verse 11 reads in the ESV – “and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”

A robber is not going to call you up and tell you that he is about ready to invade your home and take everything from you. No, he is going to sneak into your house at a time that you least expect. Solomon is basically warning those people who are lazy and love their sleep that before you know it, you are going to lose everything.

A Cause of Poverty

There are a lot of people that are poor simply because they won’t work. There is work available, but they prefer or choose not to know about it. This is what the Bible says about those people:

  • “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 10:4 NIV).
  • “Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty” (Proverbs 20:13 NKJV)
One Final Thought – They’re Looking
Regarding being lazy – if you are a Christ follower – don’t ever forget that the world is watching! They are watching to see how we act. They are watching to see how we play. They are watching to see how we live our lives and THEY ARE WATCHING TO SEE HOW WE WORK – DON’T BE LAZY!

Lord, please help your people not to be lazy. Help us to be worth our hire – to our employers and to You. Help us to strive to fulfill Ecclesiastes 9:10 – “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…”


Class Warfare Is Unbiblical

The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all. – Proverbs 22:2

It’s a growing trend in American politics, and it’s common around the world. So many people want to play one class of people against another.

Yet, if we were to look to biblical principles for our guide (like the Founding Fathers in America did), we would see that the act of playing one group of people – particularly the poor against the rich – promotes the rebellion of man against his Sovereign God.

There will always be poor people – always. Even Jesus said so (Matt. 26:11).

There will always be people with more than someone else – always.

But God is the maker of them all.

Until we can come to terms with the truth of Proverbs 22:2, there will always be those who play the class-warfare card to their advantage, not ours.


Cruisin’

car-309544_1280Our old(est) suburban was purchased in 1994, which seems like a long time ago until you consider this particular vehicle was a 1977.  Yep, complete with the two-tone orange/beige paint job—it was known as “the rolling pumpkin” at the mechanic shop.  No computer, no electric windows, and someone even had enough sense of humor to install glass packs.  Man, you could hear me coming down a hill from a mile away!  It idled so loudly that one morning the sonic waves set of the alarm on the fancy car next to it in the high school parking lot. Continue reading


Am I Living in a Land of Impoverished Confusion?

Image result for life of meaning

What does Lady Wisdom say to me?

  • I’m living in confusion and impoverished by it. I should leave the land of confusion and begin to live. I have a choice. What will I decide?
  • I can have meaning in life. Jesus has given it to me. The gift is available to me. That is some very good news.
  • I should act like I have a life of meaning. Does what I do reflect the wisdom I have in my life? Can others see the meaning and feel it? Do I get it? Do others see it?

“Leave your impoverished confusion and live! Walk up the street to a life with meaning.” ~King Solomon |  Proverbs 9:6 (The Message Bible)

Wisdom and understanding is a God-given perception of the spiritual and meaning of God’s ways. It results in my having sound judgment and decision-making. In particular, it gives me the ability to discern spiritual truth and to apply it to my daily walk with Jesus.

Biblical wisdom refers to practical skills associated with understanding and living a successful life. Wisdom is often associated with trust in and fear of God (Deut 4:6; Prov 1:7).

Understanding God’s word. The New Testament presents Jesus as a teacher — a role often associated with the wise in the ancient world. This connection is apparent in Jesus’ use of parables to instruct — teaching methods also used by sages (see Prov 1:2–7).

When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? | Mark 6:2

There is far more to Jesus’ teaching than simply the adoption of wisdom forms  —  which prophets in Old Testament times also used to convey their message. The content of Jesus’ teaching is not constrained to wisdom by His use of parables. It is also prophetic. It is miraculous. It is priestly.

The teachings of Jesus convey the Way. They convey the Truth. They convey Life!


Give Them Wine

Proverbs 31:6-7

“Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”

Debate Addressed 

Chris Jordan did an excellent job of dealing with 31:4 and 5. With wisdom and tact, he expressed both sides of the alcohol debate, ultimately showing that “under the new covenant of grace, all things may be lawful for us, but not all things are beneficial.”

My Baptist upbringing was one that left little room for debate on this subject. It was only after a lengthy (before computers) study of the word “wine” as used in the Bible did I begin to realize that there may be more to the debate than a simple black-and-white, drink-or-not-drink argument. Even king Lemuel’s mother understood there were times when alcohol could be useful (and not just in cough syrup).

The Perishing

Just today, not more than a few hours before writing this, I stood beside the hospital bed of a man in pain, a man dying. Cancer had taken over his body, his breathing and heart rate were rapid, and his mouth was dry. The family was standing around crying as they waited for the inevitable.

As I stood beside him, a nurse came in with a sponge on a little stick and placed it in some ice water, then put it in the man’s mouth. At that moment one family member said, “What he really wants is a milkshake.” Then the man’s sister said, “He should get whatever he wants.” Had he wanted a shot of Jack Daniels, they should have given it to him! He will be dead long before you, the reader, read this.

If alcohol was a sin (not just the consumption of it), then it would have been wrong for Lemuel’s mother to suggest giving strong drink to him that is “perishing.” But the king’s wise mother understood that when a man is at the end of his life or even the ends of his ropes, something that will ease his pain, or lift his spirit, is perfectly appropriate in moderation. But is to be used as a temporary remedy, one that can help one deal with his situation, not completely hide from it.

A Giving King

But there is even a deeper message in all this. What kind of king keeps hoards his wealth when his subjects are suffering? What kind of leader draws comfort from his cellars, while the poor search in vain for relief from their heavy hearts?

“Look at all you have,” Lemuel’s mother might say. “You have more than you need, and you don’t even need what you have. Therefore, open up your wine cellar; give to those who are perishing; lift the spirits of those who are discouraged; and lead your kingdom with clarity and compassion.”

Wouldn’t it be great if more kings, queens, presidents, and politicians would think less about what makes them happy, less about their own ambitions, and more about the needs of others? Most are drunk with the wine of power, forgetting the law and perverting judgment, while the powerless suffer.


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.