Prov. 15:16-17; 17:1; 16:8; 22:1
If you could go to Bill Gates or Warren Buffet (both multibillionaires) for financial advice, would you do it? Well, duh! Of course, if these guys are that rich, they tend not to give away their counsel for free. But here’s some good news. The richest and wisest man of his time has laid out his philosophy towards money, and it’s all free! You can’t get a better deal than that.
Someone pointed out to me a long time ago that Jesus spoke more about money than about heaven and hell, and that’s true. The point is that the Bible is a very practical book. It deals with enigmatic mysteries like the nature of God and the afterlife and the spiritual realm, but it spends a lot more time on practical issues like this one. So for the next few days we’re going to see what Solomon and the other authors of Proverbs had to say about it.
Before we go any further, maybe we should settle an interesting question: How should we view money? If you listen to some preachers on TV, you'd surmise that it’s an unmitigated good. God wants you wealthy, and if you aren’t then something’s wrong with you. On the other hand, throughout the history of the church, however, there've been not a few teachers who taught that it’s wrong for a believer to even think about it, and that being wealthy by definition is sinful. “Filthy rich” was almost repetitive. Some of these teachers I hold a lot of respect for, like Francis of Assisi. He was born of an extremely wealthy family, but God called him out of that lifestyle to embrace the poor and a lifetime of abject poverty.
As you might have guessed, Scripture takes a more nuanced approach. It’s foolish to say that money isn’t important at all. It is. If you don’t think so, try going without it for a while. If you try to do without possessions, then you’ll probably end up living off of someone else’s wealth.
But look at the verses for today. I think we can sum them up in one sentence: Money is important, but there are higher priorities in life. Let’s unpack them one by one.
• Obviously it’s not nearly as important as your relationship with God, crystallized by the phrase “fear of the Lord.” Notice the contrast here: If you don’t have “the fear of the Lord,” the alternative is “great turmoil.” Money can buy a lot of things, but it can’t buy peace. It can buy something to knock you out (like drugs), but it can’t get you a truly restful night’s sleep.
• It also can’t buy a loving home. Think of all the children of world-famous actors who are growing up in a family infected with “hatred.” Many of those kids dine on steak and lobster every night if they want it, but they would trade it in a heartbeat for Ramen Noodles in a home “where there is love.”
• It also won’t buy a peaceful home. How many happy marriages do you think there are in Hollywood, anyway? I’m not saying that money is necessarily bad for a marriage, but it’s obvious that in those cases that it didn’t help.
• Money’s also useless in buying a good conscience. Not every rich man has gotten there by dishonesty and by trampling others, but a lot have. You can keep that pile of money if it comes by way of “injustice.” I think this accounts for some philanthropy: They’re trying to bribe away the guilt, and that’ll never work.
• And finally you can’t use it to purchase a good reputation. What type of person are you known as? Do wise people really respect you?
Again, please don’t misunderstand me. Money is--in and of itself--not a bad thing. There were plenty of godly, wealthy men whom are commended by Scripture: Abraham, Job, David, Joseph of Arimathea, and others. But there are lots of things that are more important, and that should be reflected in our lifestyle, right?
Father God, I don’t want to despise anything you give me, but I refuse to let anything get between me and you. Anything that does, it’s gone. Now.
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