Balance: God is the common origin of all of us
Prov. 22:2 "Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.", The rich usually do not want to identify with the poor. God is the common denominator of all of us. Plus, we have the same parents, Adam and Eve, so we're all kin, going 'way back. Rich and poor also have: the same "time capital"; both will die and leave everything; both have the same avenue of access to God and both will meet their God; Scripture gives more hope for the poor than for the rich in that encounter (Luke 18:25). Poverty itself is not a moral advantage, since it could be attained by dissoluteness, lack of self-control and slothfulness. Riches itself are not morally advantageous, since it could be attained by deceit and greedy self-interest.
Rom. 11:35-36 "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen."
Balance: Neither poor nor rich
Prov. 30:7-9 "Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the Lord?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God."
is either that which is confused, worthless, untrue, which comes to us from without. . .or dissoluteness, hollowness, untruthfulness of disposition (e.g. Ps. 26:4) [deceitful men]; it is not to be decided whether the suppliant is influenced by the conception thus from within or from without. . . ." F. Delitsch, 6:282
Delitsch believes that "daily bread" is the bread "appropriate for me, determined for me according to divine plan", rather than as in Luke 11:3, "give us each day our daily bread", the bread needed to sustain life, 6:283
What is God's plan for my life?
Europe has had "too much" and disowned God, and American is arriving soon. The god Mammon (Luke 16:13) is winning over. This is spiritual warfare--the god of this world, against GOD. The simple solution if we are forgetting God is to give more away, so that we do depend upon God.
Free eye exam
Prov. 27:20 "Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man." (cf. 1 John 2:16 - 17, "For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."
Matter is not eternal. It has a point of beginning ("Let there be. . .", and an end (2 Pet. 3:10, "the heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.")
"I'll be happy if I can have. . ." Will we? If we are not content now, we will not be content with what we want, but will have a new shopping list. Prayer suggestion: "God, if I could serve you better, and if it is best according to your wisdom, to have X, then please allow me to have it, in your time. If not, I'm satisfied."
Position of David Livingstone: "I place no value on anything I have or may possess, except in relation to the kingdom of God. If anything will advance the interests of the kingdom, it shall be given away or kept, only as by giving or keeping it I shall most promote the glory of Him to whom I owe all my hopes in time or eternity."
Some consequences of satisfying our eyes:
Personal bankruptcies (not all are voluntary or due to personal fault, such as catastrophic medical bills), Chapter 13 esp., are at an all-time high and are estimated to have been about 1.3 million by June 30, 1996 [Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts]. Credit card delinquencies are at a 15-year high [p.1]. Consumer debt has hit over 1 Trillion dollars, and has grown monthly for the past three years. (Money Matters July 1996, Issue 223, "Debt levels signal trouble ahead" p. 5
In Hamilton County, Tenn. in 1996, there are about 10,000 cases of bankruptcy being administered.
What is your debt picture? Are you satisfied with your income?
A major sign that we begin to understand a balanced view toward finances is our giving
Prov. 3:9-10 "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine."
"Honor"= kabed, #943 TWOT, from the root "be heavy", i.e. God is "heavy", and we show Him due gravity by honoring our giving.
What portion should be given? The first, not the leftovers.
Prov. 3:27-28 "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it ["those to whom it is due", NASB], when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say, 'come back later; I'll give it tomorrow--when you now have it with you." This concerns omissions in giving, when we know what we should do, we can do it, but put off giving. Why? We may not want to part with it. We may not trust God. We may have another purpose for the funds. This applies to creditors. Don't put them off.
Prov. 11:24-25 "One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."
Divine economics runs contrary to conventional wisdom.
Illustration of Pederewski the pianist and Polish Prime Minister.
A fundamental economic principle is the Law of Sowing and Reaping 2 Cor. 9:6, "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Where do we get the resources for sowing? Read 2 Cor. 9:8-11. How much more do we need than "all that we need"?
For example: John Wesley
John Wesley of 18th century England lived by three rules, "Gain all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can." When an average man could live on 30œ per year, he lived on 28. When he earned 90œ/yr. he lived on 28œ. When his income rose to over 1400œ through the sale of his sermons, he spent 30 and gave away the rest. He never had more than 100œ at a time and didn't need to save, since he had no family (his wife left him). He died with less than 10œ in his possession.
He had four guides to using income:
- "Provide things needful for yourself and your family." (1 Tim. 5:8). This included food, clothing, shelter and an emergency fund in case of the breadwinner's death.
- "Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content." (1 Tim. 6:8). Those in business needed also capital for business.
- "Provide things honest in the sight of all men" (Rom. 12:17) and "Owe no man anything" (Rom. 13:8). All debts must be paid.
- "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Gal. 6:10). (Charles Edward White, "What Wesley practiced and preached about money", Mission Frontiers Bulletin, 9-10/1994).
Sylvia and John Ronsvalle of Empty Tomb, Inc., a Christian service organization, did a study of 25 years of church giving in 100,000 of 350,000 Protestant congregations. In 1968, church goers gave 3.14% of their incomes. However giving has steadily declined since then to an average of 2.52% as of 1992, while incomes have increased 48% after adjustment for taxes and inflation. They found that in 1992
Protestants gave an average of $366 a year but spent four times that on soft drinks, cosmetics, videos, cable TV, pet food, travel, pizza, ice cream and candy. They spent $657 on dining out. Only $20 of the $366 was a contribution earmarked for overseas ministries. (Religious News Service, "Members get richer but not the churches", The Orlando Sentinel, 12/31/94)
Prov. 19:17 "He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done."
When you lend to God, God repays. The poor represent an opportunity. Not only will you be reimbursed, but reimbursed by God. Not simply repaid, but rewarded. Where else can we lend to God? "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" Matt. 25:40
The hungry, thirsty, naked, stranger, and imprisoned, are all opportunities to wash the feet of God.
Prov. 22:9 "A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor." "generous", (2896a,5869=TWOT 793a, 1612a,1613= "good eye" or "bountiful eye") He looks with compassion upon those in need.
Prov. 28:27 "He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses."
Prov. 21:25-26 "The sluggard's craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. 26 All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.
There are takers and givers, both without measure.
Prov. 25:14 "Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give." I was told that I'd be given a house in Spring City, years ago. An uncle once told my brother that he'd pay for the college tuition of my children. We didn't see the first $5.00. In an agricultural land clouds are welcome. They promise rain.
Prov. 23:6-8 "Do not eat the food of a stingy man, do not crave his delicacies; 7 for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. "Eat and drink," he says to you, but his heart is not with you. 8 You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments."
"selfish" 7451a,5869=TWOT 2191, 1612a,1613 ra,a, evil or bad eye, A person's eyes reveal his view of us--eye contact, avoiding eye contact, squint-eyes, wide-eyes
Matt. 6:22-23, "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light."
Prov. 28:22 "A stingy man [NASB "with an evil eye"] is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him." He thinks accumulation means minimal outflow.
Prov. 11:29 "He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise." There is a limit to what benefactors will tolerate, even among family members.
Prov. 13:22 "A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children, but a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous." Are we spending our grandchildren's inheritance?
Funds can be left in trust for children to be given at a certain age, etc.
Prov. 17:16 "Of what use is money in the hand of the fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?"
Are your heirs foolish or wise? "Do your givin while you're livin', so you're knowin' where it's goin'" [Larry Burkett].
Prov. 19:14 "Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord."
Giving help for children to get into a house is a scriptural idea.
Prov. 20:21 "An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end."
The Prodigal Son, for example, in Luke 15:11-32.
Prov. 15:12. Someone eager for their parents' money will tend to waste it. Putting it into a trust is a partial solution.
1342a TWOT= a permanent possession, often due to succession
Ideas for inheritance:
You can tie a trust amount to equal the amount earned or saved in a given year, so as not to destroy the work ethic, which is crucial in the environment of wealth in particular.
Poverty and the Poor
Prov. 19:7 "A poor man is shunned by all his relatives--how much more do his friends avoid him!"
Economic status is more important than blood relationship (or racial relationship), and friendship.
Prov. 28:6 "Better is the poor who walks in his integrity, Than he who is crooked though he be rich."
A good name, and living by principles is more valuable than being wealthy, but crooked.
How to Get Poor
Prov. 21:17 "He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich."
pleasure (8057=2268b)= "joy, mirth"
I've seen a budget where the couple earned over $100,000.00, they had no savings, and it would take 2-3 years years before they will get out of in consumer debt. I've seen another budget where a single person spent about 50% on entertainment, and there was no interest in saving.
How much do you spend as a percentage of your income on entertainment and recreation, vacations, trips? A U.S. national average would be about 5%. You may be able to afford it. However, our behavior reflects our values, which in turn reflects our worldview. In a conversation with Gary Philips, who co-authored Making sense of your world from a biblical viewpoint, he said that a naturalistic worldview is monistic, that is, it views the material world is all there ever was, is and will be, and one way to cope and express that worldview is through enjoying all the sensory pleasure we can, for tomorrow we die and disintegrate, and today is all there is [carpe diem]
Loving pleasure increases the busyness of life, going to the next fun place.
Prov. 29:3 "A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth." It can cost $200.00/hr. for a call girl.
Oppress the poor
Prov. 22:16 "He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich--both come to poverty."
Prov. 22:7 "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender"
borrower=3867b= 1087-88, lawa, root meaning "join, be joined" to another
"Let the buyer beware." [caveat emptor]. Symptoms of servant-hood: we have less and less discretionary income, creditors call the wife at their own convenience, report our bad credit, threaten legal proceedings, garnish wages, repossess purchases, and sometimes drive into bankruptcy to get at least some of their money back. Then they adjust their charges upward to pay for the money they loose.
Creditors behave as though for us this moment is all we have, so satisfy yourself regardless of the future. We are beguiled into debt through easy credit approval, and advertisements to draw down home equity, fly now and pay later. College students are given free T-shirts and other enticement to apply for cards, even if they already have cards. Companies know that most parents will pay any bill in default. About 97% of students are approved for credit, according to one credit card salesman.
sluggard 6102=1672a, "sluggish, lazy"
Slothfulness is the sin of omission. There is no easier sin, for is requires doing nothing at all, well.
Procrastination is its cousin. Nettles grow fairly quickly, as do thistles, but it takes longer for a wall to come down through lack of repair. Rationalization is second cousin. v. 33, "A little sleep, a little slumber.", when this indicates months of excessive slumber. There will be nothing sweetly slumbering about the severe consequences. Hunger and a hard and drastic path will come violently knocking one day.
Prov. 10:15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor.
Delitsch, "the rich man stands thus independent, changes and adversities cannot so easily overthrow him. . . on the contrary, the poor man is overthrown by little misfortunes, and his despairing endeavors to save himself, when they fail, ruin him completely. . ." (6:219)
It is good to store some surplus against emergencies and adversity, not spending all that we make.
[cf. 18:11 "The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall." Yet it does not protect against God, sickness, sin]
Origins of Wealth
Prov. 10:22 "The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it." cf. Ps. 106:15, "So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them." (v. 14, they tested God with their cravings). Wealth may be a sign of God's favor.
Jas. 1:16-17, "Do not be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights..."
God's character is revealed in His behavior. God is good, His gifts are good. "Even a child is known by his deeds." Those who have the greatest personal liberty probably are the most thankful to God for His gifts. "To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.." Titus 1:15; 1 Chron. 29:10-13, "Wealth and honor come from You..."
Prov. 21:21 "He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor."
Prov. 22:4 "Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life."
Prov. 28:25 "A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.
Prov. 10:4, see below
Prov. 21:20 "In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has." A wise person saves. SEE SAVING IDEAS paper.
John D. Rockefeller's three simple rules for anyone who wants to become rich: 1. go to work early. 2. Stay at work late. 3. Find oil.
Limited value of wealth, at Judgment, among kidnappers, in friendship, in integrity
Prov. 11:4 "Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death." [Rom. 3:21-22, righteousness by faith in Christ]
Prov. 11:28 "Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf."
Prov. 13:8 "A man's riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears no threat." Poor people are not held for ransom.
Prov. 19:4 "Wealth brings many friends, but a poor man's friend deserts him." Wealth brings the best friends money can buy.
Prov. 22:1 "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold."
Prov. 28:11 "A rich man may be wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has discernment sees through him." Riches may deceive us into thinking we are also automatically wise. Wisdom does not come with riches.
Don't Try to Join the Rich:$ is ephemeral, leads into temptation, clouds our values, tends toward pride (28:11 above)
Prov. 23:4-5 "Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. 5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone., for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle." cf. 1 Tim. 6:9-10, don't try to get rich, even through gambling (lotteries, sweepstakes, "chances").
Prov. 28:20 "A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.
Pretenses to Wealth
Prov. 12:9 "Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food." Or to have a luxury car and worry about the gas.
Prov. 13:7 "One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth."
The Biblical Work Ethic
Capital: Invest in higher productivity
Prov. 14:4 "Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest." [504=108a TWOT= elep)
Pros and cons: There is no outlay for feed in a manger; But with oxen we can be far more productive. God made the "livestock" before man, then directed man to rule them (Gen. 1:25-26). Oxen are proto-tractors, but more than tractors. Wealth was measured in cattle (New Bible Dict. 2nd ed., s.v. "cattle", p. 180), and to own oxen indicated relative wealth. At least we can say that the Bible is not opposed to individual ownership of capital in order to be more productive. Although the more we have, the more these things take our time, yet the most simple life is not praised here. Are we investing in things which make us more productive? Don Rogers: when he needs a machine, he buys one that is good, and puts money back into maintenance, not living off all his profits. What makes you productive, and are you investing in these things? [books, pager, computer upgrades, modems, newsletters, journals, information sources, auto, office supplies, etc.; housewife: mixer, food processor, microwave, cordless phone, no phone--just kidding]
Prov. 10:4 "Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth." [lazy=7423b=2169a, remiya 2:849 TWOT, "slackening, looseness", cf. 12:24,27; 19:15]. When we get lazy, we need to "tighten up" on ourselves. [diligent=2742a=752a,b,753a, cf.12:24,27; 13:4; 21:5, ="sharpness", as with a threshing sledge, 1:326] a "sharp" worker is looking for ways to be more productive with time and materials.
Prov. 10:5 "He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son." Sometimes strenuous exertion is needed, with little rest, as at harvest. You need to seize the day/tomatoes/hay/watermelons.
Prov. 12:11 "He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment." [cf. 28:19, one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty]. Getting the big picture, meditating, pursuing a vision are important. This is "research and development". But it must take life at some point. Have you known someone who always was closing in on a big IDEA, but seemed to get sidetracked into the next big IDEA and the next?
Prov. 12:24 "Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor." Principle: those who manage themselves well, will manage others; those who lack self-control will eventually have no control.
Prov. 16:26 "The laborer's appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on." cf. 2 Thess. 3:10-12--no work, no food, otherwise this fundamental incentive is lost. Chronic visitors to the food pantries of the city need help to become productive, unless unable.
Prov. 20:13 "Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare." Feeding one's self is quite feasible in Scripture, normally.
Prov. 22:29 "Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men."
Stuben Glass Works, of Dow-Corning, Corning, New York, produces mystifyingly detailed, light refracting cut glass art. A batter hitting a bat straight to your eye, a trout that looks wet. Similar pieces are given by our President to foreign dignitaries. God can give such skill (Bezaliel and other workmen on the Tabernacle, Ex. 31:2-6).
Prov. 6:6-11 "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-- 11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man."
Characteristics of the sluggard?
Essentially: out of touch with reality; Why? Sheltered from reality? Has never discovered the satisfaction of work? Can eat without the need to work (welfare). Mentally deficient. Tries to "beat the system". A fool who does not learn from experience.
- doesn't consider future needs (cf. Prov. 20:4)
- indolent much of the time
"A ol mountaineer and his wife were sitting in front of the fireplace one evening just whiling away the time. After a long silence, the wife said, "Jed, I think it's raining. Get up and go outside and see." The old mountaineer continued to gaze into the fire for a second, sighed, then said, "Aw, Ma, why don't we just call in the dog and see if he's wet." "Bits and Pieces, 4/29/93, p.3
- Sleeps much (Prov. 19:15) and is adept at rationalizing sleep and rest
- No follow-through: a severe trial to those expecting performance (Prov. 10:26; Prov. 12:27, won't cook his food or even eat what is on his plate, Prov. 19:24)
- Inappropriate expectations (ignores law of sowing and reaping, Prov. 13:4, Prov. 20:4)
- Has no heart for work (Prov. 18:9; Prov. 21:25)
"A personnel manager rejected a job applicant because the firm was overstaffed. But the would-be employee persisted, "The little bit of work I'd do won't even be noticed!"
- Wild excuses for why he doesn't work (Prov. 22:13)
- Considers himself wiser than those truly wise (Prov. 26:16)
Prov. 10:26 "As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is a sluggard to those who send him." Can we be trusted to complete tasks without being reminded?
Prov. 12:27 "The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions." [NASB, "But the precious possession of a man is diligence." s.v. Prov. 10:4] Kidner believes this a better rendering, but thinks it "inappositive", but I think it fits well. The lazy man does not have diligence, in contrast to those who do.
Prov. 13:4 "The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied."
Prov. 18:9 "One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys." [7503=2198 TWOT, "slack"= "disheartened"] If true, the sluggard discourages others, and has not heart for the work.
Prov. 19:15 "Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless man goes hungry."
Prov. 19:24 "The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth." Too lazy to feed himself. cf. Prov. 26:15, almost verbatim
Prov. 20:4 "A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing."
Prov. 21:25-26 "The sluggard's craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work."
Prov. 22:13 "The sluggard says, 'There's a lion outside!', or, 'I will be murdered in the streets!'
Prov. 26:15-16 v.15 above, v. 16, "The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly."
How to overcome slothfulness
- Admit it.
- Ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit, the fruit of which is self-control, and ask the Spirit to burn it out of our life.
- Ask God to show you when you are being slothful.
- Take responsibility for your decisions, avoiding the phrase, "I have to do. . .", but rather, "I choose to do. . ." (The Now Habit).
- Write down what has to be done (the night before, M. Ramsland).
- Prioritize the list (A1, A2, A3, B1, etc.).
- Do first things first.
- Identify why we are procrastinating. (The Now Habit).
- If we're procrastinating due to fear, realize that God is not the author of fear. (2 Tim. 1:7). Do it now.
- Break up huge tasks into smaller ones. Be thankful for progress, not just completion.
Quotations are taken from the New International Version of the Holy Bible, Zondervan Bible Publishers. Used by permission of the International Bible Society.