Tag Archives: riches

True Substance

Proverbs 3:9-10

“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

It is great that the King James Version says “Honour the LORD with thy substance,” because most other translations say wealth. It is also great that it says “with the firstfruits of all thine increase,” because most other translations say crops or produce.

It is great, because these words say so much more.

Giving it all

Allow me to paraphrase: “Give God everything of who you are and let God use you and what you have, and give God the first part of anything you get above what you have.”

This is not a prosperity gospel message, but if you honor God with what you have He will give you more. If you continue giving back when you get more, you will find your barns (or bank account or pantry or whatever) full and more than you can handle.

But it is because you are thinking about God and others, not yourself and how comfortable you are. It is because you are focused on pleasing God, not growing your portfolio or your bank account.

Jesus mentioned it, too

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus discusses that those who show they are good stewards of what they are given are given more. Those who sit on, hide, or squander what they are given will have it taken away. (But we must also remember that in all things “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” (Job 1:21) must be true. Even good stewards may see everything taken away if it is for the good of the Church and glorifies God.)

The true increase and blessing is the joy of our Heavenly Father in our faithfulness and commitment to Him. We honor God because He deserves it and we love Him. We give because He gives and we love Him.

If we give simply because we expect something in return, then we should expect nothing. We are not honoring God; we are honoring ourselves.

Gracious God, Thank You for Your love and Your grace. Increase Your love in us. Give us giving hearts and a will to seek after You alone, that You may be glorified in us.

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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


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?


A Good Name

Proverbs 22:1.

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” (KJV).

Choose Your Own Adventure:

When I was a child growing up in the 80’s, one of my favourite series of books was the Choose Your Own Adventure Books by Bantam. This series contained stories that were written from a second-person point of view, where the reader took on the role of the protagonist and made choices that determined the main character’s actions and the plot’s outcome. It was a very interesting concept, and depending on what choices you made, you either had a good ending, or a bad ending (often resulting in your character’s death).

When I was in junior high school, Choose Your Own Adventure put out a writing contest for teenagers, and I entered it. Although I didn’t win the writing contest, I was pleasantly surprised by a personal letter from editors Edward Packard and R.A. Montgomery, telling me how much they personally enjoyed my story, and encouraging me to continue writing.

You Choose:

As I was reflecting upon today’s Proverb, I thought about how the Bible is like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book. Especially in the Book of Proverbs, God’s Word gives us wisdom for daily living, and encourages us to choose often between two different options. In today’s Scripture, Solomon gives us two sets of options: The first one is to have a good name and loving favour (or high esteem), and the other is to have great riches such as silver and gold.

It is interesting to notice that the Bible’s contrasts of two different options are not always opposites. For example, the Proverb doesn’t say, “A good name is better than a bad name.” Rather, it says, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” When you read something like that, it’s good to ask yourself, “Why does God contrast those two things?” Could it be because oftentimes people who pursue great riches do so to the exclusion of having a good name? How many people strike it rich, but do so at the expense of others, or by giving up their reputation, honesty or integrity?

The Choice:

In the New Living Translation of the above Scripture, Solomon plainly says, “Choose a good reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold.” As you’re setting a goal for your life, choose to do what is right and good, and have a good reputation that brings honour and glory to the Lord. Amen!


Honking Escalade

Proverbs 16:19

“Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”

Rich and Poor

Not all poor people are humble. Not all rich people are proud. We should never jump to conclusions and assume that just because a man is poor he is humble, or prideful if he is rich.

That being said, today’s proverb addresses the heart of man, and that heart is usually more proud when he is rich, humble when he is poor. For instance, the people who blew their horn at my wife and I, as we sat at a stop sign and couldn’t go anywhere, were in a big Cadillac Escalade. They honked at us, but we didn’t honk at the little old lady in front of us who couldn’t decide where to go. (That actually happened just a few moments before writing this)

Riches and Poverty

This proverb also addresses the misconception that wealth is better than poverty. Sure, to have more money and possessions can be a great blessing, but it can also be a curse far worse than being destitute.

This verse also addresses the misguided belief that “the one with the most” wins. Many only have “the most” because they have taken advantage of those who have little.

The NIV translates this verse, “Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” It might not always be the poor and rich we’re talking about, but the oppressed and the oppressors. Either way, the one who is worse off in God’s eyes is the one who sits with those who have become wealthy by taking from others, and is proud of it.

Be Content

Let us consider Proverbs 16:19 as we observe the words of the Apostle Paul…

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

Ultimately, it’s better to have nothing and a humble heart, than have everything and be at odds with our God.

(I hope the horn on that Escalade breaks and starts blowing when they’re behind a State Trooper)

 

 


Liked, or Liked Less

Proverbs 11:16

“A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.”

To over-simplify things, there are two kind of people in this world: those whom are liked and those not liked as much. (To be fair, there tends to be a third group: the rest of us, we who seem to get by with little notice from most other people. We have our friends and co-workers, and that is about it.)

Gracious

The first person most people in our world think about when asked to name a person full of grace is Mother Teresa.

Many consider Mother Teresa to be one of the greatest women in history. She confessed hurts, pains, depressions, doubts, and weak faith.

Yet people still loved her … still love her to this day, even though she died in 1997.

Why?

She loved. She showed grace. She was devoted to serving others.

Rich

The first person most people in our world think about when asked to name a person who is rich is someone mentioned a couple of weeks ago: Donald Trump.

Many consider Donald Trump one of the wealthiest and most arrogant men in history. He has built a financial empire, built impressive buildings, hosted his own reality television series, and made a lot of money.

And many people can barely stand the guy.

Why?

He is blunt to a fault. He alienates others for the sake of profit. He is devoted to the bottom line.

Us

As mentioned above, most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

The downside is that we can fall into the trap of chasing something so hard that we alienate others and miss God. We end up with … nothing.

The plus side is that we can be like Mother Teresa. If we pursue God wholeheartedly, if we are desperate for His glory, we, too, can be known as people of grace remembered for our love.

The choice is ours.

The choice is yours.

Great God, give us Your grace. Fill us with Your love. Create in us a passion for Your glory, that we may not finish this race empty-handed and hated.


Overboard With Everything (11:4)

Proverbs 11:4

“Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.”

Extending Life

According to Wikipedia approximately 250 people are believed to have invested in cryopreservation as a means of maintaining their bodies in a suspended state after death. They hope that science will one day find a solution to whatever it was that killed them so that they may live again! Considerable wealth is necessary to fund cryopreservation, but the fact remains that even the wealthy die. No amount of money can change the fact that our days on earth are numbered.

Death Approaches Silently

Years ago while anchored in the Shatt-al-Arab River we hosted some officers from another British ship in our bar one night. I spent a long time listening to one of them telling me about his perfect his life. He had bought a new flat (apartment) back home, and a new car. He had a wonderful girlfriend and a great job. He showed me the expensive Seiko watch he had purchased in Japan earlier in the trip. I can remember being envious. I was only a cadet at the time, and the lowest paid person on the ship.

Later that night our officer of the watch got a VHF call from the other ship asking if we could put our boats down and help them search for a missing officer. The very person who had spent the evening telling me about his absolute satisfaction with life had fallen out of the boat when trying to board his ship. It was three weeks before his body washed up further downstream. He died with everything he ever wanted, but without the only thing he ever needed: Salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Rich Fools

Jesus told a parable about a rich fool who had his best year ever on the farm. The harvest was so good that he decided to demolish his barns and build bigger better barns so that he could store away plenty for years to come. That night the farmer died. The NIV version is shown below:

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

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 12:13-21

The writer of Proverbs captures this parable in a single line, ably demonstrating the simplicity of the message. You cannot buy salvation. Eternal life is a gift that may be claimed only by surrendering your earthly life to God.