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Wisdom and Wealth (Part II)

Wisdom in the Acquisition and Use of Money

Introduction

Chuck Swindoll, in his excellent book, Strike the Original Match, has included a chapter concerning the matter of money in a marriage. The chapter is appropriately entitled, “Till Debt Do Us Part.” Unfortunately money mismanagement has taken a heavy toll on the marriages of many Christian couples, as well as in the unbelieving community.

As accurate as it is to say that debt may destroy a relationship, it is not just the lack of money which has disastrous effects; it often may be the abundance of it that is so destructive. And if individual Christians are plagued by problems related to finances, so is the church. A church leader was once told, “No longer can our church say, ‘Silver and gold have we none,’” to which he wisely responded, “No, and neither are we able to say, like Peter and John, ‘In the name of Jesus, rise up and walk.’” Financial prosperity is often accompanied by a loss of spiritual power, due to apathy and complacency. Such was the case in the church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:17).

In our first study of money in the Book of Proverbs we focused on a proper attitude toward money. Now we will concentrate on the biblical instruction of Proverbs related to the making and spending of money. In this lesson we will talk about wisdom in the acquisition of money as well as in its appropriation.

Wisdom and the Acquisition of Money

It matters a great deal how money is obtained. Proverbs reminds us that God is intimately concerned with the way we earn a living. God is not aloof to the way we obtain money.

A just balance and scales belong to the Lord; All the weights of the bag are His concern (16:11).

Do not rob the poor because he is poor, Or crush the afflicted at the gate; For the Lord will plead their case, And take the life of those who rob them (22:22-23).

Money which is gained in an ungodly way will not bring us any lasting benefit; instead, it will bring about our own misery.

Ill-gotten gains do not profit, But righteousness delivers from death (10:2).

He who profits illicitly troubles his own house, But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward (11:18).

Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, But afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel (20:17).

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue Is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death (21:6).

Many people seem to think that they can “launder” money, which they have gained dishonestly, by giving a portion of it to God. They convince themselves that since God is getting a “piece of the action” He will not be overly concerned with how the money was obtained. This viewpoint was long ago demonstrated in the life of the patriarch Jacob. Jacob made a vow, promising to give a tithe to God if He would protect and prosper him (Gen. 28:20-22).I find it interesting that Jacob is never recorded as giving this tithe, nor did God ever ask for it. And all the time he was with his uncle, Laban, Jacob was trying to become wealthy by his schemes and questionable practices (cf. Gen. 30:25-43).

Some people make money by questionable, if not illegal, means, and then attempt to salve their consciences by giving a portion to the church or charity. In their minds, benevolence is the end that justifies their sinful means. The tragedy is that there are all too many churches and organizations that are eager to relieve the guilt of unprincipled men by taking their money, helping them feel good about their sin. Proverbs tells us that no sacrifice is pleasing to God that is wrongly gained:

To do righteousness and justice Is desired by the Lord rather than sacrifice (21:3).

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, How much more when he brings it with evil intent! (21:27)

Three principles sum up the teaching of Proverbs on how we should acquire money. Let me point these principles out, with a brief word of explanation on each.

1. MONEY SHOULD NOT BE SOUGHT WITHOUT A COST TO US.

You might call this the principle of toil and time. The fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden took place many centuries before Proverbs was written. The curse which God placed on man, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life” (Gen. 3:17), is the underpinning of this principle of toil and time. Money should not be sought without toil, hard work, or without an investment of our time. Money obtained too easily or quickly will soon be gone.

Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich (10:4).

He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who pursues vain things lacks sense (12:11).

In all labor there is profit, But mere talk leads only to poverty (14:23).

Do not love sleep, lest you become poor; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food (20:13).

An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning, Will not be blessed in the end (20:21).

The opposite of diligence and hard work is laziness. The lazy seek to avoid work altogether. Since they must make money to live they turn toward schemes and get-rich-quick offers. Proverbs teaches us that these alternatives to work will not succeed.

2. MONEY SHOULD NOT BE GAINED AT THE PRICE OF PRINCIPLE.

Proverbs 10:2 calls money acquired at the expense of principle “ill-gotten gains.” Other proverbs are more specific as to the principles which we dare not violate in the pursuit of an income. The following are some principles which we ought never to violate in the making of money:

3. MONEY SHOULD NOT BE GAINED AT THE EXPENSE OF TRUTH.

Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, But afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel (20:17).

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue Is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death (21:6).

4. MONEY SHOULD NOT BE GAINED AT THE EXPENSE OF JUSTICE.

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity Than great income with injustice (16:8).

Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles. . . (13:11).

The king gives stability to the land by justice, But a man who takes bribes overthrows it (29:4).

5. MONEY SHOULD NOT BE GAINED AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS.

Do not rob the poor because he is poor, Or crush the afflicted at the gate (22:22).

He who robs his father or his mother, And says, “It is not a transgression,” Is the companion of a man who destroys (28:24).

He who increases his wealth by interest and usury, Gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor (28:8).

6. MONEY SHOULD NOT BE GAINED AT THE EXPENSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Ill-gotten gains do not profit, But righteousness delivers from death (10:2).

The wicked earns deceptive wages, But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward (11:18).

7. MONEY SHOULD NOT BE ACQUIRED AT THE EXPENSE OF BIBLICAL PRIORITIES.

We can agree, I believe, that we should never sin in order to gain wealth. But we must carry this one step further to accurately convey the wisdom of Proverbs. Not only should we avoid sin to gain wealth, but we should not sacrifice any biblical priority to earn money either. Since there are many things in life more important than money, our efforts to earn money should never rearrange these priorities. For example, we have already learned (Lesson 8) that a happy home is more important than a prosperous one (Prov. 15:17; 17:1). When the pursuit of money takes a toll on our home life, we have violated biblical priorities. Priorities should not be laid aside or rearranged in the making of money.

How to Lose Money

As well as teaching us how to earn money, Proverbs warns us of the many ways in which money can quickly be lost. The following are some of the most commonly mentioned pitfalls:

1. LAZINESS. The sluggard not only fails to obtain wealth because of his idleness, he also neglects the resources he has.

I passed by the field of the sluggard, And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense; And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles, Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down (24:30-31).

Put in positive terms, we are exhorted not to neglect what we already possess.

Know well the condition of your flocks, And pay attention to your herds; For riches are not forever, Nor does a crown endure to all generations. When the grass disappears, the new growth is seen, And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in, The lambs will be for your clothing, And the goats will bring the price of a field, And there will be goats’ milk enough for your food, And sustenance for your maidens (27:23-27).

2. GREED. Strangely enough, it is often a person’s greed that contributes to his poverty:

The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed (11:6).

A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth, And does not know that want will come upon him (28:22).

Most con artists appeal to the greed of their prey. Our laziness and greed incline us to want to get rich quickly and easily. The con man has just the answer for this--a scheme that offers us a chance at wealth that others are not shrewd enough to leap at. Remember that the sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than the wise (26:16), but in reality he is senseless (24:30). Greed causes us to overreach and to lose what we have in hopes of gaining more than we should expect.

3. IMPETUOUSNESS. The greedy are also hasty or impetuous. Greediness inclines us to grab for all we can get. My brother and I were in a Safeway store on Christmas eve when he overheard a clerk tell a customer that all the bread on the shelves was free. This was because the store was closing and would not be open the next day. Some walked away in disbelief. Others picked through the bread and took a loaf or two. My brother and I grabbed three shopping carts and loaded up everything we could carry off. I have to admit that it was greed that caused me to want to grab every loaf of bread in that store, and quickly before anyone else got it first. Proverbs warns that it is this kind of greedy haste which brings about poverty.

The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, But everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty (21:5).

Have you ever noticed how Madison Avenue has taught the seller to put a time limit on things for sale? There is a sale from 6 P.M. until midnight. The door-to-door salesman assures you that you must decide tonight, that he cannot extend the offer to a later time. The reason is that our greediness inclines us to snatch up the offer while we can, fearing that we may never have the opportunity again. Generally our greed gets us into trouble because we make a hasty decision to spend money quickly in order to save money on an item we really didn’t need.

4. WRONG ASSOCIATIONS. Much money has been lost due to an unwise choice of associations. Proverbs warns us that being around the wrong kind of people may bring us to poverty.

Now then, my sons, listen to me, And do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her [the adulterous woman], And do not go near the door of her house, Lest you give your vigor to others, And your years to the cruel one; Lest strangers be filled with your strength, And your hard-earned goods go to the house of an alien (5:7-10).

Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat; For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags (23:20-21).

I know what the world thinks about “wine, women, and song,” but Proverbs warns us that we had better stick to singing, unless we have a hankering for poverty.

5. SQUANDERING EXTRAVAGANCE. One of the ways the foolish are separated from their possessions is that they consume too much and save too little. They are not content with a little of anything, but exhaust it extravagantly and quickly.

There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man swallows it up (21:20).

It is for this reason that we are told:

Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, Lest you have it in excess and vomit it (25:16).

I have a friend who has wanted a van for a long time. There is no question of his financial ability to purchase one. Not long ago he was at a national automobile dealers meeting and saw countless configurations of style and luxury in vans. When he told me about seeing all these vans I asked if he bought one. He replied that he did not, and his reason was that everyone needs to do without something they would like, even if they can afford it. That’s wisdom. Consumerism in America has become a great problem because we have become accustomed to being able to buy what we cannot afford on a little piece of plastic called the credit card.

6. SURETY. One of the most prominent words of financial warning, very perplexing one, is that of becoming surety for another.

My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor, Have given a pledge for a stranger, If you have been snared with the words of your mouth, Have been caught with the words of your mouth, Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself; Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor, Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor. Do not give sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids; Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand, And like a bird from the hand of the fowler (6:1-5).

A man lacking in sense pledges, And becomes surety in the presence of his neighbor (17:18).

Take his garment when he becomes surety for a stranger; And for foreigners, hold him in pledge (20:16).

Do not be among those who give pledges, Among those who become sureties for debts. If you have nothing with which to pay, Why should he take your bed from under you? (22:26-27).

Becoming surety for another is foolish (17:18), and it is so serious a danger to the one who has thus pledged that he should remedy the situation immediately, even though it is personally humiliating (6:3). In some way or other, it places the one who pledges in a vulnerable position, almost a victim of the one for whom he has become surety (6:2-5).What is the error involved in becoming a surety for another, and why is it such a dangerous practice?

Becoming surety for another is the process whereby one assumes responsibility for the debts of another. Derek Kidner says that the liability in such cases was unlimited.30 The dangers of such unspecified liability are clear. Proverbs warns against becoming surety for a stranger (6:1; 20:16; 27:13). One should not assume the responsibility for a person whose character and financial reliability are unknown, especially if our guarantee is for an unspecified or unlimited amount of money. The effect of becoming a surety for another is to endanger the financial well-being of our family for the sake of one we hardly know. As Proverbs puts it, we may find ourselves in a position of not having the resources to cover the debts of another, and thus lose even our own bed (22:27, perhaps the equivalent to “losing our shirt”).

The fact that one needs another to become a surety for him already tells us something about that person. It says that this “stranger” is either unknown and unproven in character and responsibility, or one who has already proven himself unreliable. At best becoming surety is a gamble. And you will notice that under such an arrangement we have everything to lose and nothing to gain. In addition to all this, the fact that we have become surety for another may even encourage irresponsibility on his part. After all, if he doesn’t pay up, we will.

Does the teaching of Proverbs on surety prohibit our co-signing a bank note for anyone? I am sure some would differ with me here, but I tend to see the emphasis as being on the danger of guaranteeing the debts of a stranger. Co-signing a note with a son or daughter, for example, may enable them to begin to establish their own credit. In addition, the note is for a specified amount, and hopefully something is being purchased which would serve as collateral (such as a car). I take it that we are warned about being foolishly generous for those we hardly know, and for an unspecified or unlimited amount of money. We often have enough trouble paying our own bills; let us not look for trouble by assuming the liabilities of another. As parents we must also be alert to the danger of teaching our children to be irresponsible by always coming to their rescue. Whether by our profession or our practice, telling others that we will always bail them out of financial disaster, especially when it is due to their own folly, simply encourages financial foolishness.

There are better ways to handle the needs of those who would ask us to guarantee their debts. The first would be for us to make a personal loan. To be businesslike we would want assurance of repayment in the form of character references, collateral, and so on. In addition, we would probably charge interest (this was not forbidden in the case of a foreigner, cf. Deut. 15:1-3; 23:19-20). In this way the amount of money (and the potential loss) would be limited, and the possibility of gain would be present. An outright gift would be another means of helping another. We would know from the beginning what the cost to us would be and whether or not we could afford it.

Another possibility is that one may not find it wise to do any of the above. God provided for the needs of hungering Israelites and foreigners alike in the instruction to leave sufficient excess in the field for them to glean (Lev. 19:9-10). Thus the needs of any could be met in this way. If the basic needs of the stranger for food and clothing are met, why should others endanger the well-being of their family to help a stranger purchase what he really doesn’t need?

The bottom line is this: if it is not advisable to borrow money unless absolutely necessary (as I believe Proverbs suggests, cf. 22:7), then surely it is foolish to mortgage your financial future for the sake of a stranger, whose character is so little known no one is willing to loan him money without another to assume his debt in case of his default. God made provision for the basic needs of both Israelites and foreigners, but He warns us about becoming liable for indebtedness that is not essential.

Biblical Priorities
for the Use of Money

Proverbs has much to say on the subject of our financial obligations. While there may be some disagreement with the exact order of the priority of the following obligations, I believe that we will all agree that these should be priorities which govern the use of the money God has given us:

1. WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO GIVE TO GOD. In the Old Testament God carefully prescribed the tithes and sacrifices which He expected from His people. Proverbs teaches the need to give of the abundance He has provided, and that this would result in even greater blessings:

Honor the Lord from your wealth, And from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine (3:9-10).

For the Israelite, it was an act of faith to give from the first of his crops. After all, one might reason, who knows how great the harvest will be? But giving the first to God acknowledged that it was from Him that the harvest had come, and that the remainder of the harvest would come also. My wife and I have personally found that our giving first to the Lord has developed our faith, and we have never lacked any necessity.

2. WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO PAY OUR DEBTS TO OTHERS, WITHOUT DELAY. There is a tendency to withhold payment as long as possible, especially with large corporations. Now I understand that there is a time limit within which we can pay without penalty. But Proverbs seems to warn us about withholding payment when we have the money to pay:

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it,” When you have it with you (3:27-28).

We should take note of the fact that “those to whom it is due” are literally “its owners” (cf. 3:27, margin, NASV). Those whom we owe, whether it be the government for our taxes (e.g. Rom. 13:1-7), or payment for services rendered, really own the money we are withholding, not us. We are keeping what others own from them when we withhold payment. This is the teaching of the Old Testament and the New:

“You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he may not cry against you to the Lord and it become sin in you (Deut. 24:15; cf. Lev. 19:13).

Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth (James 5:4).

3. WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO PROVIDE FOR THE NEEDS OF OUR OWN HOUSEHOLD. I believe that this is more assumed than stated in the Book of Proverbs, but it is clearly stated as an obligation in the New Testament.

But if any one does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Tim. 5:8).

In Proverbs, we see the godly woman making certain that the needs of her family are taken care of. Notice also, that they are not shabbily met. Both the wise woman and her family are well dressed. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple (31:21-22).

It does not frequently occur, but it is possible for a person to be so generous with others that his own family suffers. I do not believe that we should help others at the expense of our families. That is, I do not believe that we should help others to live on a higher standard of living than we provide for our own families. Most often, however, the problem lies in the fact that neither we nor our family desires to lower our own standard of living to help those in dire need.

4. WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO HELP PROVIDE FOR THE NEEDS OF THE POOR. The truly righteous is never aloof to the needs of those about him. In fact, those who are more prosperous should use their wealth to minister to the needs of the poor.

There is one who scatters, yet increases all the more, And there is one who withholds what is justly due, but it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, And he who waters will himself be watered. He who withholds grain, the people will curse him, But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it (11:24-26).

He who despises his neighbor sins, But happy is he who is gracious to the poor (14:21).

He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him (14:31).

He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, And He will repay him for his good deed (19:17).

He who is generous will be blessed, For he gives some of his food to the poor (22:9).

He who gives to the poor will never want, But he who shuts his eyes will have many curses (28:27).

She extends her hand to the poor; And she stretches out her hands to the needy (31:20).

5. WE SHOULD MAKE PROVISION FOR FUTURE NEEDS. Not only are we obligated to provide for our families in terms of their present needs, we should also save in order to meet future needs. This is not hoarding wealth, but making wise provision for the days ahead.

Go to the ant, 0 sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, Prepares her food in the summer, And gathers her provision in the harvest (6:6-8).

There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man swallows it up (21:20).

I know some Christians who very sincerely believe that they should exercise faith by not buying any insurance nor setting aside any money for future needs. At one point in my life I was ready to cash in all my insurance. A wise friend gently warned me, “Bob, I won’t tell you not to cancel your insurance, but I will remind you that you should be willing to accept the possibility that God will take you and that your wife will have to bear the entire financial burden when you are gone.” My friend was not talking hypothetically, for he had a friend who had done just what I was contemplating--and he died, leaving his wife to care for four young children. Some may call that faith, but I do not think that Proverbs would.

6. WISE INVESTMENTS. Our Lord Jesus told a parable in which one steward was rebuked for failing to take the money placed in his care and increase it (Matt. 25:26-28). Some Christians seem to think it is wrong to make money. Proverbs commends the godly woman because she took the money she had and invested it wisely.

She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard (31:16).

A friend of mine who is far wiser than I in the use of money gave me some very good advice, which I would like to share with you. He said that I should carefully distinguish between my savings (for retirement) and my investments. Savings should be as certain as possible. After all, who wants to try to retire on a small sum of money, one diminished by bad investments? Investments involve a higher risk factor than savings, my friend went on. Even here one should probably tend toward conservative investing, spending only money we can afford to lose on high-risk ventures. We should distinguish between savings and investments. I believe Proverbs makes that important distinction.

7. WE SHOULD MAKE PROVISION FOR AN INHERITANCE. In my mind this is probably the lowest level of priority. Far better for us to leave a heritage of godliness and wisdom to our children than a large amount of money. Nevertheless, Proverbs does say this:

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous (13:22).

There is a further word of caution, however, on the subject of inheritances. If one does leave an inheritance, he should also be careful not to give too much too quickly.

An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning, Will not be blessed in the end (20:21).

I have observed that those who went through the hard times of the depression (or whose family was poor as they grew up) are often too easy on their children. They give them everything they want, and they do not teach them the important fact of life that we must learn to get the things we want by working for them. Let those of us who are able to leave an inheritance be careful that it will be a blessing to those who receive it.

Conclusion

As we conclude this lesson on acquiring and using money in Proverbs, I want several truths to be foremost in your mind.

First, Proverbs teaches us that while we must be willing to work in order to obtain wealth, it is God who ultimately prospers us. When we forget where our material provisions come from, we are on very serious spiritual ground. Spiritual apathy often results from our misconception that we have prospered because we have worked harder or are more spiritual. Wealth is a gift which God has given some. In the eyes of most of the inhabitants of this planet All Americans are wealthy. But it is God who sovereignly bestows material prosperity, just as He has sovereignly bestowed spiritual gifts (cf. 1 Cor. 12:11). Just as some will have more prominent and “successful” gifts (1 Cor. 12:4-6), so some will have greater prosperity. But whether in the case of spiritual gifts or material wealth, the absence or presence of it is no proof of our spiritual state. And in both instances, what we have been given is for the good of others.

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7).

Instruct them [the wealthy] to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed (1 Tim. 6:18-19).

Secondly, we should always look at our material possessions in terms of the principle of stewardship. A steward does not own anything, but he has been put in charge of its use. God had told Israel of old that they did not ultimately own their land, but that they were simply placed on it as stewards. When they misused the land and disobeyed God, they were driven from the land.

‘The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me’ (Lev. 25:23).

Whenever we begin to think that the money we have is really ours, we are in trouble. God is the possessor of us and of all we have. To forget this is to commence a very dangerous course in life.

Third, God has ordained to make this area of finances a proving ground for our faith. Because money cannot buy security, nor is it secure itself (Lesson 8), we must learn to trust God in the area of finances. I know that most of you have been learning lessons in this area for a long time. The more I read the Old Testament and consider God’s dealings with Israel, the more I am impressed with how God chose to develop the faith of His people through their finances.

For example, we think of Canaan as the land “flowing with milk and honey,” and such it was (Ex. 3:8,17). But Egypt would have been the land a farmer would have chosen to settle in.

“For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year” (Deut. 11:10-12).

Now isn’t that interesting? God didn’t choose to bless the land of Canaan because it was the best land, just as He did not choose to bless the Israelites because of any natural superiority or greatness (Deut. 9:4-6). God placed the Israelites in the land of Canaan because they would have to look to Him for rain and for the abundance He promised. In addition, the laws which God established further tested their faith. They were to work six days and rest on the seventh, the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11); they were to till the land six years and let it rest on the seventh (Lev. 25:1-4).Interest was not to be charged fellow-Israelites (Deut. 23:19), debts were to be canceled every seven years (Deut. 15:1), and the land was to be restored to its original owner on the fiftieth year, the year of jubilee (Lev. 25:10). In my estimation all of these commandments served to teach Israel to live by faith.

That brings me to a principle which defines the relationship between faith and finances: financial faith is trusting God to provide for our needs consistent with the way He promised to meet our needs. I believe that anyone who expects to be blessed without having to work is a fool, not a man of faith. I believe that one who makes hasty commitments financially and looks to God for the money is not a man of faith, but a man who is foolish in handling money. I also suspect that he is foolish about most everything else.

One of my friends remarked this week that many Christians seem to be addicted to danger. They leap off of the financial pinnacles of life, expecting God to catch them before they fall, flat broke. Oftentimes we call these men men of vision, men of faith, when in reality they are no different from the man who likes to drive an automobile at the extreme limits of danger--just for the thrill of it. Let us be careful to exercise genuine faith. Let us do those things which God has told us to do--to work, to be generous to the poor, to save, and then leave the matter of riches to Him. But let us stop trusting God to make us rich in some miraculous, bizarre, or stupid way.

Finally, let us not lose sight of the difference between grace and works. believe that if we wish to make money we must work for it. After all, that is what God said when he cursed the ground on account of Adam’s sin (Gen. 3:17-19). I do not think that everyone who works hard will get rich. Riches, then, are the result of grace, God’s grace, not just hard work. Hard work does not obligate God to bless us; it is simply that which God has ordained to bless. Just so, it is not our calling on God which saves us; it is God’s sacrifice of His sinless Son on the cross of Calvary. The means which God has ordained for men to have their sins forgiven and to receive the gift of eternal life is their repentance and trust in Jesus Christ as the One who died in their place. We are not saved by any work of our own, but by the grace of God and the work of Jesus Christ. The riches which are far greater than wealth are those which we can obtain only in Christ. I invite you, I urge you, to share in these riches by simply trusting in the work which Christ has done on your behalf.


30 Derek Kidner, The Proverbs (Chicago: Inter-Varsity Press, 1964), pp. 71-72.

Related Topics: Finance