Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Money’

Moving Beyond Commitment

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

*****

Somewhat skeptical of his son’s newfound determination to become the next Charles Atlas, the father nevertheless followed the teenager over to the weight-lifting department.
“Please, Dad,” whined the boy, “I promise I’ll use them every day.”
“I don’t know, Michael. It’s really a big commitment on your part,” the father pointed out.
“Please, Dad?”
“They’re not cheap either.”
“I’ll use them Dad, I promise. You’ll see.”
Finally won over, the father paid for the equipment and headed for the door.
From the corner of the store he heard his son yell, “What! You mean I have to carry them to the car?!”

*****

Commitment to a cause is sometimes difficult.  I mean, it’s easy to understand something that is true and understand how it could benefit our lives, but to actually change and begin applying that truth creates stress.  Change is hard.  The doctor asks you to stop eating KFC, Taco Bell and Wendy’s three times a week because your cholesterol is getting a bit high…like closing in on 320.  Changing that can be tough.  That was basically my story last spring.  I had been off my cholesterol medicine…cause I thought I had a handle on things.  Truth was, my diet was intertwining in negative ways with hereditary traits and creating a disaster in the waiting.  I had to face truth.  Dr. Tony was the truth giver.  “You’re going back on medicine.  And you’re going to eat healthier.  Or, you’re going to be a heart patient sometime soon…,” is close to what he said after looking at my test results.  I had to make a decision to accept the truthful scenario I was facing, and I had to commit to doing some things differently to get healthier.

We’ve been talking about finances in the last few articles.  The American dream has been changed a bit through the past few generations.  ‘Normal’ in America means that we have/want a nice house, a nice car and nice things and a credit card balance to prove it.  Normal means living the high life but still living pay check to pay check.  Normal means no savings account.  Normal means Christmas is put on an equity loan.  Normal means vacations are financed at a 15% interest rate.  Normal means we’re not content with where we are…ever.  Normal means greed is …well…normal, and even accepted.  Normal is kids being able to beat their parents down for a happy meal when mom or dad know they can’t afford it.

But we’ve learned that healthy means living within our means.  Healthy means recognizing that none of what we have is ours.  God owns it all.  Healthy means living wisely, with savings for emergencies and enough to get us through a couple months of hard times.  Healthy means living within our means so we’re always ready to give generously if God leads us to.  Healthy means no credit card purchases on impulse.  Healthy means paying with cash.  Healthy means that our financial management is within God’s plan for our life…we are stewards of what He gives to us or allows us to have.  Healthy means that we are content and thankful in all situations…no matter what.

Most people in America are living the “unhealthy dream.”  And most people, if confronted with the truth of what is healthy, blow it off as too hard or weird.  I like KFC, Taco Bell and Wendy’s, but I if they are taking years off my life I think I can change a few things.  I don’t like taking medicine, but if it will add a few years to my life…I think I can pull off remembering to take a little pill in the morning.   And if running can get me off of that pill and help me live even healthier, I’m even more motivated to commit to change.

Funny thing here though is that we often commit to things.  We speak new plans with our mouths in front of others with great intentions.  Anyone got an unfulfilled New Year’s Resolution from the past few years?  Me too.  After commitment comes forward motion.  To pull off of square center we need to “do something.”  Commitment is step one.  Forward motion with new choices is step two, three, four, etc. etc.  Will you fail sometimes in those steps forward?  The definitive answer is a resounding YES!  However, failure becomes wisdom when you can see what you did wrong and correct your course and still keep moving forward.  John Maxwell calls this Failing Forward.  You fall down.  Get back up.  You’ll get knocked down.  Get back up.  And always remember this, when committing to a healthier, Godlier plan of financial management, you’re not alone.  He is with you.  You have His word and the scriptures, many which are scattered through the last couple articles, to guide you.

So, what do you choose?  Normal and unhealthy or a little weird and healthy…even Godly?  Which will help you live a more peaceful and happy life?  Which will help you be more helpful to those around you?  So, if you said yes to a positive change, what will be your first step?  Will your first step be tomorrow or will you put it off further into the future?  I know you know the best answers to all these questions, but it is up to you.  Commit and then act.  You will soon be on that journey to success and you will feel like you’re accomplishing something great!  And you’ll be in a better position to be healthy for those around you who need to see Jesus.  That is the ultimate goal.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

Actions for growth:

  • Write out where you are weak in financial management and where you’re strengths might be.
    • Examples:  Impulse purchases are my weakness.  However, if I put my mind to it, I’m actually a pretty good saver.
  • Get a sample budget to start looking closer at where each of your dollars go.  Here are a few links to get you started:
  • Pray your guts out about how thankful you are that God trusts you with money and stuff and things …and that you want to get better at being a manager of His things.
  • Take inventory of your stuff…look at what you need and/or don’t need.  Sell some things.  Give some things to people who might need them more than you.  This will get you on the road to living contently.
  • Begin to tithe and give to Godly things.  Start with your church.  Or, if you don’t have a church, look for one where you can belong and where you can begin a new chapter in your life.
  • Set up a plan to save some extra bucks that will help you through a dry season.  Maybe even an auto take out program so that you don’t even have to think about the money going into a savings account.
  • Continue to recognize that we are not our own.  We were also bought with a price…a high price.  Christ’s life.

…and on that note… Merry Christmas!  : – )

Ed

Gaining Momentum as a Church Financially

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

* * *

I’m in debt. I am a true American.”~Balki Bartokomous

Interest on debts grow without rain.”~Yiddish Proverb

The only man who sticks closer to you in adversity than a friend is a creditor.” ~Unknown

Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money.”~Unknown

A church debt is the devil’s salary.”~Henry Ward Beecher

* * *

Debt stinks. I think I’ve heard someone say that before. Debt often has regret tied right to it. And regret stinks as well. I’ve been writing about money for the last few weeks. This week, I want to look at debt and the church as a whole body. Before we start, here are some definitional things to look at first. Those of us involved in a local church are part of that church family or church body. You could go as far as to say that the churches who claim Christ in a given area are the body of Christ in that city, town or village (Colossians 1:18, Colossians 1:24, 1 Corinthians 12:27).

Here’s the idea…debt stinks for the church…the body your a part of. If there are 100 people in a given church, and 50% of them are tied to debt, 50% probably are in a spot where they cannot give like they want to. 50% of them are probably in a spot where, if the church was called to fill or reach a specific need, they could not participate fully because their bills are a priority over their church family’s ministries. Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that these people are bad or unfaithful. Hear this…confession time…if this church were real and I was a member, I’d be in that 50%! Many of you would be right there with me. I wish I hadn’t made some past financial decisions. I know that my impatience, my greed or selfishness has my family in a spot where we cannot give to our neighbors, community, our church, or those in our world like we might have been able to otherwise.

Picture a church family that has little to no debt. Now, I’m talking about two things here. I’m talking about a church budget that doesn’t include debt payments and the individuals in that church family that are near or out of debt. Think about what they can do. Think about what they can give. Think about the spontaneous things they can provide to people in their community. Think about the open doors they might have where I see closed doors because I have “payments.”

We have talked about debt creating a ‘slave to the lender’ scenario (Proverbs 22:7). From that verse I get a sense that ‘freedom’ is at stake when we have debt. Peace is at stake when we have debt. We know in our gut what it would feel like if we had no student loans, no car payment, no credit card payment for that big family getaway weekend that happened eight months ago. We know don’t we. We’d yell “FREEDOM!” We’d have more peace. We’d be a bit closer to that “…life more abundant…” that we hear Christ talk about in John 10:10.

How about the church family? Is your family…your church family…living that abundant life? Where your resources are provided for so much, and you’re in such a free and peaceful spot that you can stop and move as God calls you to with no hesitation? The closer we get there the more momentum we will have. Momentum creates excitement. Momentum helps us feel more as we always should. Momentum can help a community see Christ in newer and more consistent ways. It keeps the ball rolling. Debt stops that ball.

What can you do to help create more momentum in your life financially…and in the life of your church family? What steps can you take this week…maybe even today that will put you on that path. Maybe its saying “no” more to the weekly expenses you feel tied to but aren’t necessary. Maybe its getting rid of some stuff that will help pay off loans. Maybe its a whole shift in your life outlook. A young Cameron McCabe was answering a question for me years ago in Kid’s Worship Time in our church family. The question was, “What can we do as young people (2nd-5th grade) do to serve God. Answers were flying around. Huge, big, crazy, Sunday School answer type answers that really weren’t applicable but sounded really Biblical and religious. Cameron, frustrated with the answers, looked at me and said, “Just do something!” Some of us need to heed Cameron’s advice. We probably know many things we need to do. Let’s start with 1 thing and start.

If we all start to do something that will enhance our ministry to others and to our church family, momentum will increase for us. It will not only be noticed within our church family. It will be noticed by those around us. They will see our lifestyle of freedom. They will see the peace that passes understanding the Bible talks about. They may even see it as something that is so attractive they want a part of it. Maybe that will be someone in your immediate family. Maybe it will be someone in your workplace. Maybe it will be your neighbor. Imagine what you’ll be able to say when they ask the big question, “Hey, there’s something different about you. What is it?” You’ll be able to say that you’re living more like God wants you to…like Jesus lived.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Be thankful for the needs that all of us have filled daily through the providence and miracles of God.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

God Owns It All

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it… Psalm 24:1

We are simply stewards of what we have been given.  Thats how it started in the beginning in the garden of Eden.  Nothing has changed, except our sinfulness. 

How does your, our, my sinfulness get in the way of being great stewards of what God brings to us or allows us to have?

What do we need to change?

Keep an Attitude of Gratitude

November 18, 2011 Leave a comment

****

Peter Pan + Pumpkins = Peter Pie Pan

Corn + Turkey = Cob-ble, Cob-ble

Burglar + Turkey = Robble! Robble!

Dizzy Person + Turkey = Wobble Wobble

Orange Vegetable + Green Vegetable = Pumpkin Pea

GPS Device + Thanksgiving Dinner = Tom Tom Turkey

UFO + Thanksgiving Fruit = Cranberry Saucer

****

 

I’m personally very ready for turkey.  I’m also ready for some down time.  Instead of writing a long article this week, I’m going to give you some quotes and phrases about Thanksgiving and  the attitude of gratefulness and a few thoughts of my own.  I know this, when we can do a good job of choosing the attitude of gratitude, we remember who’s world we live in, and how good He is to us.

 

  • Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God…  Deuteronomy 8:11-14
  • I’m thankful that my well being is not dependent upon what happens to me, but rather how faithful my God is. ~Author Unknown
  • He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~Epictetus
  • Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting. ~Author Unknown
  • To the generous mind the heaviest debt is that of gratitude, when it is not in our power to repay it. ~Benjamin Franklin
  • Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. ~Jackie Windspear
  • O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness! ~William Shakespeare
  • The earth is the Lord ’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…Psalm 24:1

When we think of all we have, and realize that everything we have is from God, we should be compelled to be thankful.  Thankfulness is truly a chosen attitude.  When we forget, and claim success based on only our own efforts and work, we throw our hand to God and basically say, “I don’t need you.”  I’ve been there and done that.  What regret.  When ‘Ed’ acts like that, I hold onto a mindset that is limited only to my own little world.  And because of that I limit myself.  I carry the attitude that there is only so much of anything I need, and I need to work hard and fast for it.  When I get “it”…whatever “it” is…I then give myself the congrats because it was “me” who achieved.  That mindset also says that I can lose “it.”  I’m limited within my own strengths and weaknesses to gain or to keep or to lose.

 

However, if I keep the mindset that I am God’s child, and that my heavenly Father owns everything, then I have an attitude of abundance.  Everything around me is God’s and He shares it with me.  God is not limited.  If I need something…I said need and not want…God will provide as He sees fit.  And guess what, if appropriate, He blesses me with things and people and wants that I could have never expected nor obtained myself.  Now that doesn’t mean I get rich in cash…it just means that I’m rich in my mindset…I’m a child of the King.  So, rich or poor in the world’s eyes, I’m still blessed beyond measure.  The attitude of thanksgiving keeps me centered.  I have to choose it daily.

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

ed

 

 

Saving – It’s not just for a rainy day.

November 11, 2011 Leave a comment

* * *

Mother had decided to
trim her household budget wherever possible, so instead of having a
dress dry-cleaned she washed it by hand. Proud of her savings, she
boasted to my father,Just think, Fred, we are five dollars richer
because I washed this dress by hand. Good, my dad quickly replied.
Wash it again!

* * *

OK, so money isn’t our most favorite
thing to talk about.  Especially when we are going to be discussing
possible changes in our use of money…or our possible abuse of cash.
It’s personal isn’t it?  That’s what it is.  We are so closely
tied to our cash…and cash to our lives…that when we discuss it in
‘church’ settings it gets very awkward.  And don’t worry, it’s
awkward for me as well.  Money is one of the most talked about
subjects in our Bible.  And very often the Bible asks us to do things
differently than we are probably doing.  Don’t worry though.  This is
an uplifting article…I hope.

Savings.  How many of us save?  Now
when the Bible talks about savings, it talks not only about money,
but about resources.  Food, drink, cash.  Two items that are vital to
human life, and one that is vital to human life in our society.

Here’s a principle I’d like for us to
consider.  Hopefully you can follow me here.  I think we’d all agree
that God’s purpose for our lives is to have us grow into the likeness
of his son Jesus.  And we know that Jesus’ character is exactly like
that of his father’s.  We are to then to have the love of God shining
through our lives…our actions and words and thoughts.  Money and
resources have to fit in that somewhere.  Here’s my
understanding…and I’m not an expert…I’m just learning as I get
older and as I gain more wisdom from the Bible.

God takes care of his children.  When
we actively search for him and his wisdom and his resources, as we
follow his daily plan for our life, he provides.  In fact, if you
remember our discussion some time back from the Sermon on the Mount,
he asks us to seek and knock…promising us that we will find and the
doors will be opened.  He takes care of us.  As children of God we
are to act like him.  We are to care for family and take care of
others…just like he does.  Love God.  Love your neighbor as
yourself.

Saving isn’t just something that our
grandparents and great grandparents learned through and from the
Great Depression.  It’s Biblical.  Actually, its a choice and an
attitude towards life.  It’s not just ‘sound’ financial wisdom, its a
way of living.  It’s not about getting rich or getting ahead.  Its
about doing life God’s way and with his wisdom.

Saving money.  Saving resources.  In
the Bible, in Proverbs 21:20, Solomon writes that wise people store
food and oil, but foolish people use up everything they have
constantly.  The wisdom of God calls us to store up food and oil.
Genesis 41 tells us of a time when God used a young man by the name
of Joseph to help save a “non-God-following” country called
Egypt.  Egypt was the power house of nations, yet through a dream,
Joseph helped the Pharaoh know that there was a 7 year famine on the
way.  It was coming after 7 years of incredible abundance.  God,
through Joseph, helped Egypt put away 20% of their harvest, 7 years
over, so that they would have food through the famine.  Well, not
only so Egypt could have food, but that they could literally be a
place others would come to to buy food and resources.  Through this
thoughtful, strategic, change of lifestyle for seven years, Egypt
literally saved itself and more than likely many nations around them.
That’s God’s nature.  He uses open and willing servants to work in
the world to show his goodness a nature as a provider.  Question is,
are you one of those servants?

Sure, saving is for the rainy day that
often comes to our household unexpectedly.  Sickness happens.
Accidents happen.  The roof gives way when we least expect it.  Cars
break down.  But those things happen to people round us too.  God
wants us to be open handed with our savings as well.  I’m not saying
to give it all away to the first person we see who needs a new car,
but to be smart with our generosity so that people will truly see
God’s provision…through us.

If we have the attitude that many
people in our world have that promotes buying the latest, newest and
hottest ‘thing’…whatever that thing is…then we can’t be fully
about our Father’s business.  But guess what?  We can change.  Maybe
we can set our budget up so that all of our purchase decisions are
based on 80% of our income (tithing 10% and saving 10%).  But change
stinks doesn’t it?  But guess what?  If we get this right, we will be
available for God to use in our own family and to our neighbors as
well!  We all know people like this don’t we?  The are so
giving…even when it looks like they don’t have much to give.  And
they’re happy.  I think that’s what God looks like.  I want to look
more like that.

Can you save?  All of us can.  If we
are paycheck to paycheck because of past purchases or simply because
of circumstances out of our reach, we can make little decisions to
make dollars stretch further.  Will it kill us? No, but it will feel
different.

Another thing here.  A few years we had
the remnants of a hurricane come through Ohio.  Some of you will
remember this.  Some of you, like us, had branches and trees come
down around us and knock us out of electric for days.  I think some
of us were out for many days.  We were lucky.  We had purchased a
generator from a friend and it helped keep our refrigerator cold and
an electric heater going to keep our pipes from freezing.  We were
out about 3-4 days.  Not huge.  We had family who provided meals for
us because they had electric.  But what would have happened if our
whole county were to be out of electric?  Gas stations shut
down…oops…there goes the generator (unless I had stores of gas).
Grocery stores would not be able to keep things cold.  McD’s would
not be able to prepare food.  Question, would your pantry provide you
with food for 3 days without electric?  Do you have water that could
last for 3 days for you and your family?

You see this saving thing isn’t just
about money.  It’s about being smart with resources for life.  Buy an
extra couple cans of veggies when you go to the store to not
use…but to store away.  Buy a gallon of water every so often to not
use, but to store away.  You never know what may happen.  Our daily
life is surrounded by electric.  If it goes out, have you saved
sufficiently to feed your family…and maybe help neighbors who
didn’t?  Remember God’s character as a provider.  He wants that to
shine through us.  And he can.  This is something we all can do.  As
a church family, if we all saved, think about the resources we would
have collectively to help each other and our neighbors!

Proverbs 21:20 – “In the house of the
wise are stores of choice foods and oil, but a foolish man devours
all he has.”

Questions for growth:

  • Does your bank account have enough
    to cover for your next emergency?  Oh, yes…there will be a next
    one.
  • What is your attitude towards
    saving/spending?
  • Have you ever been helped by
    someone else when you had a emergency that you didn’t have enough
    money/food/resources for?  How did that feel?  Can you look back now
    and see God in the situation?
  • Do you want to be that for other
    people as well?
  • Can you be that for others with
    your current saving and “stores” of resources?
  • What can you do this week…even
    within the next couple days…to be more wise with your savings of
    cash and resources?  Will you do it?  🙂
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

What is your world view? – Money

November 5, 2011 1 comment

***

The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to, after the worship service, ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play.

“Here’s a copy of the service,” he said impatiently. “But you’ll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances.”

During the service, the minister paused and said, “Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected, and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up.”

At that moment, the substitute organist played “The Star-Spangled Banner.” And that is how the substitute became the regular organist!

***

What is a world view?  Let’s just get specific.  What is your world view?  Here’s a basic definition of the term:

…it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual, group or culture interprets the world and interacts with it.

A world view is the foundation of our life.  What we believe to be true shapes our morals and values.  Our morals and values then shape our behaviors and thoughts and words.  So what is your world view?  Do you have a God?  Who is this God?  How big is this God?  Is he just one of many?  Is he just a part of life or is he involved in all of life?  Whatever you believe to be true or not true of those questions determine how you live.

I am a Christian.  I hold true the belief that God is the creator of the universe.  Everything is his.  He creates and intimately knows each and every person who has, is and will be..although many do not believe him.  I believe that he has called us his children.  I believe that he has made one way for us to be back with him in a perfect and sinless environment.  I believe he has resourced us and will continue to resource us with what we need to live a full and peaceful life here, to serve others, and to help them see his ultimate and perfect plan.

Ok, there’s a snapshot of my belief.  Out of this framework of what I believe to be true about life, now and life after this body of mine ceases to live, I derive morals and values.  If I believe that God is the creator of all I see and holds my life in his hands, then it would hold true that I should value what he values.  My values and morals will be his.  Therefore, my actions should hold true to what I value.  People should be able to see my God’s character, values and morals reflected through my words and actions.

I hope that makes sense.  Again, what our world view is determines how we live life.  If my God were small and insignificant in my life…and I didn’t hold his views as true…then I would live life according to someone or something else’s values.  My actions and words would show that God isn’t important and that my ego or something else is.

How we view money and use money or abuse money show’s what we believe about God.  If God owns everything and everything is under his command, as he is sovereign, then it includes all my money…well not my money…his money.  I’m simply a steward of what he provides me.  I can do really stupid stuff with money…and he might allow me to mostly as ‘teachable moments.’  I can do really great things with money.  Money is just a tool, but it’s in The Creator’s tool box.

Here’s my view.  Money doesn’t turn the planet.  Many of us think and act like it does, but it doesn’t.  All the money is God’s, and if he needs it in a certain place at a certain time for a certain action, he can move it where it needs to go. However, if our world view is that money is essential to living, and it becomes bigger than God, then money will rule our world.  We will be influenced by it rather than controlling it as Dave Ramsey encourages.  We will be worried by the lack of it and enamored with dreams of having more of it.  As the Bible says:   For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1st Timothy 6:10

The last part of that verse doesn’t seem to peaceful to me.  Doesn’t sound like money brings contentment.  Doesn’t sound like money will fix things.  Can money be helpful in many circumstances?  Sure, but it is not the source of fixing…God is the source of fixing.  God is the source of all we need.  God is our Father and we are his children, and he wants us to trust Him in all things.  One of my favorite verses, probably my favorite, is this, “Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.”  That is from the mouth of God through his prophet Micah.  That’s what God desires from us.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for growth:

  • Write down your world view.  What do you believe to be true.  Where do your values come from?  Where do your actions point?
  • Pick someone apart from yourself.  Can you tell something about their world view by how they act and speak and think?  Remember, people daily evaluate your world view based on what you do and say and think as well.  Do you point to God?
  • Is money a big part of your world view?  Does your thoughts about money line up with God’s view of it?
  • Are you consumed with thoughts and worries and dreams about money?  Or, are you content with where you are and what you have…content enough to be focused on God goals?

 

Debt Stinks

September 8, 2011 Leave a comment

  • The best way of saving money is to forget who you borrowed it from.
  • Fred: Thank you so much for lending me that money. I shall be everlastingly in your debt.  Harry: That’s what I m afraid of!
  • Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor. ~ Benjamin Franklin
  • This is all the inheritance I give to my dear family. The religion of Christ will give them one which will make them rich indeed. ~ Patrick Henry

Proverbs 22:7 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Arguments abound as to how much wealth King Solomon actually had.  Some place him in lists compiling the richest men in history.  Some say that he was just a ‘good’ king in a small, rural village government that did well while he was in power.  Here’s what I know.  Since Jesus rose from the dead, I have reason to believe what the Bible says.  The Bible gives many accounts from the life of King Solomon concerning his wisdom and wealth.  I could list all the references here, but it would take most of a few pages to properly account for them all.  I’ll just simplify the list with the following short statements.  His yearly salary estimate was $280,000,000.  He ruled 40 years…do the math.  He had shields made with Gold.  He made alliances and peace treaties with rulers of that known world…and received gold and treasures in return for his political savvy.  He married 700 wives…many of them daughters of the powerful rulers of the known world of that time.  His kingdom may not have been the largest, but it was very influential in the region, and he was paid well for his leadership and help with hard diplomatic questions.  He was known for his wisdom as a leader and ruler.

Why do I start this article on Proverbs 22:7 like this?  This proverb about rich and poor was written by this wealthy king.  The books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs, books of wisdom, were written by Solomon.  Most suggest that they were written in his later years as he looked back at his life.  From the king’s throne he witnessed a lot.  Having the wisdom of God, he was able to make powerful business and kingdom decisions.  However, two things he lacked were obedience to his God and common sense.  He came around to those two things later in life as both of these books show.

Solomon writes about being rich and being poor in many ways in the books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs.  Sometimes he lifts up the rich other times he writes of their greed.  Sometimes he writes about the good nature of the poor, and sometimes he calls them out for being lazy.  When you lay all the verses he writes about the rich and the poor side by side, a bigger picture is seen.  He is getting to the heart of the matter, which really has nothing to do with money.

He was one who had position to rule over the poor.  For the most part, evidence from Scripture show that he wasn’t an evil ruler…but being rich afforded him the luxury of ruling.  As king, he ruled over others who were rich, some who ruled with an iron fist over the poor.  Solomon, as the king, was the final judge in many “court cases.”  He no doubt ruled sometimes in favor of the rich…sometimes in favor of the poor.  The wisdom he writes of simply comes from his observations.

The focus for the week, however, is the position of those who are in debt.  From all of the verses that Solomon wrote about, concerning wealth or poverty, he writes about it being a character issue.  Being rich or being poor is simply about position.  There isn’t anything evil about being wealthy, unless the wealthy disobey God.  There isn’t anything evil about a person who’s poor, unless poor disobey God.  Money is just money.  John Maxwell says this about money, “Money does two things.  It provides options and it provides something to share with others.  That’s it.”

This verse points to two things…rich rulers and poor who are in debt slavery.  From his throne, he saw the rich ruling over the poor and the poor who were in slavery to the rich because of their debt to them.  Did he make any judgment?  No.  It was simply a statement about what happens when people go in debt.  Is there a moral to the story?  I believe so.  Solomon, in all his vast wealth found out that it didn’t satisfy all his needs.  Only God can supply a “full life” (John 10:10).  I believe that in his wisdom statement there is a warning.  Don’t pursue the things of “wealth” as the world sees…only to go into debt and be a slave to the lender.  Becoming a slave to a lender has its consequences.  Even though you think have more stuff, you have less options in life because of payments and you have less to share with others (remember John Maxwell’s quote above).

Next, I’m going to put some verses back to back to back from Solomon’s hand to give you a snapshot of what he finally figured out through his life experience.

Ecclesiastes 1:8,10,11  I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces… I denied myself nothing my eyes desired… Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;  nothing was gained under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:26  To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.

Ecclesiastes 5:12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.

Ecclesiastes 8:15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

Proverbs 28:6 Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse.

Proverbs 22:2 Rich and poor have this in common: The lord is the Maker of them all.

What I come away with from these verses and others like them is this…what one has doesn’t define them.  Their actions with what they have or with what they lack, their character, builds their reputation.  Some try to build their reputation by buying things they cannot afford.  I’ve been in that boat and am paying interest because of it…slave to the lender.  It’s not a fun place to be.  I’d feel a lot freer if I had less but didn’t owe anyone anything.  Solomon saw this.  He saw how the ‘love of money’ and the love of stuff strapped people down…and how others ruled over them.  In the book of Ecclesiastes, he literally called it meaningless…a chasing after vapors in the wind.

Solomon’s big conclusion to all of his gained wisdom and knowledge came down to this.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

Summary:  Be content and don’t chase after things that God hasn’t brought your way.  Forced blessings usually put you in a debt situation.  Debt is bad.  We could argue what kind of debt is bad or what kind isn’t…but we’re talking simply about the principle of wanting things not within our reach and thus making decisions that will hinder our ministry to our family and others around us.  Love God.  Love people.  Those are our charges.  Making poor decisions with our finances keeps us from fully serving our Creator.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

 

Questions for Growth:

  • Do you have debt?  (y/n)  Was that debt necessary? (y/n)  Do you feel weighted down because of it? (y/n)
  • If you are in debt, do you have a plan to “master” your spending? (y/n)  Can you verbalize it to someone else? (y/n)  Try it now with someone near you.
  • What things are necessary for you to live a full life as described by Jesus in John 10:10?
  • How does our American culture see “stuff”?…Accumulation of stuff?…
  • Does stuff define us? (y/n…yes it is a trick question)  Stuff can define us…if we purchase stuff on loan so we have what others have, then we will be defined as a debtor by some bank.  Is this how you want your life defined?
  • Ouch…are you feeling the “pinch” of this verse like I am?  😦
%d bloggers like this: