Tag Archives: riches

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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Simple Warning

Proverbs 10:4

“He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”

Warning Labels

They come on all kinds of things, from blow dryers to toasters, from heating pads to pillows – they are “warning labels”. They are put on these items to, well, warn us!

They are warning us to be cautious! They are warning us that we should not do something! And they are warning us that if we do something, then there will be consequences for our actions.

Solomon’s Warning

I am pretty sure that if Solomon could have, then he would have taken a small piece of scroll and taped it to this verse as a warning label for us. He is telling us that if we don’t work hard or if we are lazy, then there will be consequences for our actions! And those consequences will be that we will be poor.

It really is that simple – be diligent and have riches – be lazy and become poor.

As Christians, we should be the hardest working people that our bosses have working for them. No matter where we work, we should work at it with all our might. I Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God”.

Conclusion

Poor or rich, the choice is yours! It is a choice that we must make every single day. The man who works hard at his profession or other duties will be rich, but the man who is a lazy, or sluggard, will be poor. It is up to you!

Lord, help us to make the choice every day to be diligent workers for not only our bosses, but for You! Help us in all we do, to do it for the glory of You!


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.


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)