Prov. 14:23; 20:13; 21:5, 17; 23:21; 28:19; 22:7
Why are people poor? Why is there such a disparity between the wealthiest in the world and the poorest? Well, there are lots of reasons, and we’ll examine some of them today.
Before we get to them, let’s go ahead and handle some objections. Obviously there’s a certain amount of poverty that people suffer due to reasons that have nothing to do with choices they make. I'd be naïve to claim that there’s no racism or other injustice in our culture or nation, for example. There’s also such a thing as a bad economy, which we’re experiencing as I write this. There’s economic upheaval, and industries change as technology improves (such as when the automobile displaced the horse-drawn carriage).
But instead of focusing on poverty which is caused by “the system,” how’s about we take a look at problems which we can actually fix today, right now. Some of the problems (such as racial injustice) are not going to be completely solved until Jesus returns, because they’re rooted in a sin issue. You and I can’t do much about that, at least not in the short term. But there are decisions which we can make today about this.
• Work hard and take action to improve yourself. No one ever improved their financial situation by talking about it.
• Avoid laziness. This isn’t to say that “sleeping in” is always a bad thing, but it certainly isn’t a license to print money, is it?
• Get a financial plan and budget and stick to it. Spontaneous (“hasty”) spending should be kept to a minimum.
• Be self-disciplined. This is not a plea for asceticism, but realism. Do pleasure or a desire for self-indulgence control you?
• Avoid any addictions. Of course there are the obvious ones like alcohol, drugs, or tobacco, but Solomon also makes a big deal about addiction to food as well (or do you have another definition of “gluttony”?). What are the latest statistics on obesity in America again?
• Read 28:19 again. Now what could possibly be a common, modern equivalent of a “fantasy” that people are chasing? My number one candidate for this? The lottery. My favorite joke about the lottery? It’s a tax on people who are really bad at math. Can I apply some tough love here? If this is your retirement plan, there’s no other word for it. You’re a fool. I love you, but you’re being a fool.
Now let’s spend a moment on debt. We’ll probably discuss this more at a later time, but let me summarize my understanding of it here. God’s word, as best as I can tell, doesn't absolutely forbid debt, but it certainly discourages it in pretty strong terms. Do I think it’s sinful to have any debt at all? No. But if what Solomon says about it is true (well, duh!), then we need to make some pretty hard decisions about it.
Now, if I follow this counsel, will I definitely avoid poverty? Of course not! This isn't an iron-clad promise or a science like physics or chemistry. If you follow God’s plan, you will—in general—tend to be healthier and wealthier than if you don’t. If you need to see my earlier post on this, it’s here.
Do I follow all these principles? All the time? I plead the fifth on that. Just kidding—Of course I don’t. I wish I did. But I’m trying, through God’s grace, to do it. How about you? Are you still making excuses, or are you going to start concentrating on what the Father wants you to do?
Father, your word is so packed with wisdom. My problem isn’t so much right beliefs as it is doing what I know I’m supposed to be doing. No matter what happens, I can never go wrong by doing what you tell me to do, can I?