Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent
The Bible contains numerous references to money, including earning and spending, saving and giving. The Book of Proverbs, in particular, deals with financial issues like wealth and poverty. And even though money can help, it can’t solve every problem. What you need is wisdom. So let’s begin our study by examining some of the benefits of wealth described by King Solomon.
I will begin with the one most attractive to all of us. Riches do provide one with a measure of security. Today, as inflation is so high, most of us have to do some real belt-tightening. But inflation doesn’t impact the rich nearly as much. Consider what Solomon says about the security provided by wealth: “The rich man’s wealth is his fortress, The ruin of the poor is their poverty.” (Proverbs 10.15 NASB1995).
Another advantage of wealth is that it is easy to make “friends.” Though it creates a situation in which the wealthy have a more difficult time determining who they can trust, they have no shortage of people eager to orbit their sphere of influence. Solomon says: “Many will seek the favor of a generous man, And every man is a friend to him who gives gifts. All the brothers of a poor man hate him; How much more do his friends abandon him! He pursues them with words, but they are gone.” (Proverbs 19.6-7 NASB).
We’ll note the last advantage of wealth is that the wealthy also wield power. “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” (Proverbs 22.7 NASB1995)
But money isn’t everything. Money doesn’t spare one from death, the great equalizer of all. Aside from that, the stock market may crash, or a catastrophic event may deplete a bank account, and then what?
Wealth, as Paul clarifies in the New Testament, is not sinful. On the contrary, it is the love of money (1 Timothy 6.10). As a result, there is nothing wrong with attaining wealth. However, wisdom necessitates adherence to these guidelines:
- One must earn wealth honestly through labor (Proverbs 13.11).
- Avoid being a “trust-fund baby” [It didn’t help the Prodigal—Luke 15.11ff] (Proverbs 20.21).
- One should acquire wealth gradually rather than quickly. [My apologies to the lucky lottery winners.] (Proverbs 28.20,22).
- Do not amass wealth through deception or predatory lending (Proverbs 20.17; 21.5-6; 28.8).
- Remember that wealth is a tool you use, not something using you (Proverbs 23.4-5).
On the flip side, Solomon offers advice on how to deal with financial hardship. Poverty isn’t always self-inflicted, but it can be! Self-inflicted poverty is something we should avoid at all costs. So, consider what lessons we can learn from Proverbs about spending our money.
- Some are economically disadvantaged due to their sloth. We can deny it because it sounds mean, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s true (Proverbs 20.30-34).
- Men also waste money in the pursuit of pleasure (Proverbs 21.17). [This pursuit can include gluttony and drunkenness—Proverbs 23.21.]
- One can waste resources on things of no value (Proverbs 12.11).
The Book of Proverbs contains valuable advice on managing money and avoiding financial struggles. May the Lord grant us the wisdom and grace to use our resources wisely.