When you finish this lesson you should be able to:
- Understand that all money belongs to God
- Comprehend that God’s money is to be used by the ecclesiae to meet needs
- Understand the ways that God has provided to increase wealth
- Comprehend that God wants us to live in freedom
- Know why we may be short of money
- Understand three bits of wisdom from Proverbs about money
We shall review the teaching of Scripture that all money belongs to God. Then, we will look at the concept that the ecclesiae should use money to meet the needs of the needy. Next, we want to understand the ways that God has provided for us to gain wealth. Then, we visit the reasons that we may be short of money. Finally, we will conclude with three bits of wisdom about money.
Where We Are Going
All the Money in the World Belongs to God
God’s Money is to be used by the ecclesiae to meet needs God Provides us with ways to increase wealth
How to Understand Proverbs: A Small Interlude
Three Ways to Increase Wealth
God wants us to live in Freedom
Living in Freedom
Learn to be a giver not a loaner
Short of Money
Three More Tips from Proverbs
If we honor God with the wealth he provides, he will bless us in return
A passion for money causes us to lose more than we gain
The more money the more complicated life can become
A false sense of security
New Friends by the bushel
Pride and arrogance
Where Have We Been and Where We Are Going
How God Sees Money
As with any group, Christians are divided on whether they should have money or not. Those who do not believe that the followers of Jesus should have any money usually advocate a kind of Christian communism. They base this belief on a misinterpretation of Acts 2.44-45 which says that the early followers of Jesus had all things in common, which we discussed earlier. The end result of this belief is that all Jesus followers should live in some kind of a commune where everything is equally shared. This was extremely popular during the so-called Jesus-People history of the church in the last century, as well as other periods. The question is: does Scripture teach that the followers of Jesus should not have money? Let’s see! Here is some of God’s wisdom to think about and remember.
1 All the Money in the World Belongs to God
But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth… (Deuteronomy 8.18a).
In this section of Deuteronomy, Moses warned this new generation of God’s people about the perils of prosperity. He urged them not to forget the forty years of the care of God in the wilderness even though their forefathers had sinned when he had provided plenteous food and clothes to last. Forgetting the bountifulness of God in times of plenty would lead to sin during the times of plenty in the land of milk and honey. They would face the temptation to become satisfied and think that in their strength they had conquered this new land. It is God who grants men and women the power to create wealth. He can allow you and me this privilege because he owns all the wealth in the world. To claim success by virtue of one’s own power is to deny the true source of wealth and abundance which comes from God. The children of God entering the promised land could avoid pride in their wealth and strength if they would constantly remember that God was the great provider, that all of life is a gift from God.
This sin of forgetting who produces wealth is still among us today! How often when difficult times arrive we depend on God to meet our daily needs. We draw close to him and look to obey him. But, when things begin to go well and we have more than we need, we falsely believe that we are sufficient and forget God.
This statement of Moses carries with it the undeniable truth that sometimes God will chasten us to remind us who is in control of the wealth of this world.
The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. (Haggai 2.8).
The people of God who returned from captivity were in the process of rebuilding the Temple. When Haggai preached this sermon, it was the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. The occasion was to be a great time of joy and praise. Instead, it became a day of discouragement and complaining. The people of God, then as in all generations it seems, were looking back instead of looking forward. When the foundation had been laid, the older men had wept because they remembered the glory of the Temple of Solomon (Ezra 3.12). But now some of the people were very discouraged because the rebuilt Temple did not have such splendor and glory of the former Temple. Haggai ’s message was to encourage the people of God that all the silver and gold from all the nations belonged to God. Some of the Lord’s inexhaustible natural resources, such as silver and gold, would surely be available for use in the construction of the Temple because he has ultimate control of all the wealth of all the nations of the world. He was providing for them a larger worldview than their present rather mundane activity of daily building. One might also learn from this text that there is no reason to continually look back at what God has done while forgetting that he is still acting in the present. In God’s work, we must constantly look forward to where he is taking us and only choose to remember those important encounters where he provided for our needs to continue our journey with him. So all the money of all the nations in the world belongs to God. He has control and gives generously to the needs of his people.
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Corinthians 4.7).
The argument that Paul is making in this passage is that one can only give away what they own. He is in the midst of an argument here to demonstrate the absurdity of the Corinthians in their prideful belief that they had risen to spiritual maturity because of the Spirit in their life. He invited them to experience a rare moment of total honesty. In the presence of the God of the universe, they must come to a realization that everything, absolutely everything that one has, is a gift from God. Because everything means everything, this includes money, although money is not in the precise argument that Paul is making.
2 God’s Money is to be used by the Church to meet needs
They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. (Acts 2.45)
In this passage, Luke records the story of the early church in Jerusalem selling their possessions and goods and giving the proceeds away to those in need. The words sold and give are both rendered as imperfect tense in the original Greek language. In Greek, the imperfect means the action of the verb was continuous in the past time. One could read it like this: “Recently the disciples sold and kept on selling their possessions and goods and continued giving the proceeds away to everyone who had a need.” This is a clear picture of self-sacrifice so that others who have needs can be blessed. Acts 4.34-35 teaches the same thing. In the early Jerusalem Church when a person had a need, someone was willing to sell off something that he or she had, receive the money for it, and meet the need that was present.
To summarize to this point: All the money in the world belongs to God and he calls on his ecclesiae to take the money they have and minister to the needs around them. It also appears that God desires men and women to gain money because he wants to bless them with wealth.
3 God provides us with ways to increase wealth
Scripture never assumes that there is something wrong with having money. Rather, it demonstrates that God allows men and women to make money. We should learn that money is a gift from God. The problems that we face is not that money is evil, but that we have a way of twisting and perverting all of God’s gifts, including money, and the result of the twisting is that evil occurs.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6.17).
We need to eradicate the picture in our mind of God as one who is a monster, who harangues everyone and wants them to live in pain and misery. That picture is the picture that the enemy wants us to live with. However, Paul presents a picture in this text of a God who loves to give us everything abundantly so that we can enjoy life. Remember, God owns it all and he is willing to share some of it with us. The term wealth in this passage could mean “an abundance of external possessions.” First, we learn that those who are rich are to avoid being proud because they have money. Second, those who are rich should not fix their hope on money because money is false security. Finally, we should understand that all our possessions belong to God and are given for our enjoyment. God is not one who wishes to squash all pleasure from our lives, but rather one who wishes to provide pleasure and enjoyment in our lives. He just wants us not to be deceived that what we have brings joy, but it is he who brings the enjoyment through what we have. The exhortation is not to be so arrogant that we put our hope in wealth. Rather, we put our hope in God who continually provides everything, including money, for us to enjoy.
| How To Understand Proverbs: A Small Interlude
In 1990 as computers were in the process of becoming a household product and common household folks began to buy and use them, a book company created an idea of writing books that were simple to understand. “For Dummies” books were born because IDG Books tapped into a need and they have sold millions of books written by experts in a field to educate the non-expert. In actuality, they may have come across a rather biblical idea. The First Testament book of Proverbs created this idea long before the folks at IDG Books recreated it. This little book is an easy-to-understand set of sayings which describes the wisdom of God on many subjects. Proverbs are the rules and regulations which suggest how to live a responsible life. These little pithy sayings teach the very values of life that should be followed. In Proverbs, wisdom and folly are contrasted. The first nine chapters are the prism through which the reader of these sayings can understand what they teach. The author places a key in his writings to help the reader understand the context from which he is writing. At Proverbs 9.3 and 14 he uses the phrase “highest point of the city.” In the ancient world, the god of the city-state was believed to live at the highest point of the city. In the first nine chapters of Proverbs, both Wisdom and Folly strive to gain the attention of unsophisticated young men and entice them to become intimate. Intimacy implied worship. The book Proverbs proposes the question: Will you follow Wisdom (God) or Folly (Baal)? This concept is illustrated in the first of the smaller pithy saying at Proverbs 10.1:
A wise son brings joy to his father,
but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.
Thus, if a child chooses to bring joy to his or her parents, the child is wise, in fact, the child has decided to choose God to follow. On the other hand, if the child brings grief to the parents, that behavior suggests that the child has decided to follow Baal. Looking at the Proverbs through these lenses helps us recognize that true wisdom really is following God.
Each of the small pithy sayings in Proverbs does not state everything about the truth of an issue. They do, however, point the reader toward the truth of God on that issue. Remember, they are sensible guidelines that can shape our behavior.
Each proverb should be taken on its own terms and not taken literally as we are so prone to do as Western readers and thinkers. Here is a quick summary of ideas about the Proverbs to remember.
Proverbs are not a legal guarantee from God. Each proverb states a wise way to approach certain selected practical goals. Nowhere does Proverbs teach automatic success. Both Ecclesiastes and Job should remind us that there is very little that is automatic about the good and bad events of life.
Proverbs should be read as collections. Each Proverb must be balanced with and understood in comparison with other Proverbs as well as the rest of Scripture. They cannot be isolated from each other. An individual proverb that is misunderstood may lead one to an attitude or behavior which is far from appropriate. Consider the following example. Proverbs 22.26-27:
Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge
or puts up security for debts;
if you lack the means to pay,
your very bed will be snatched from under you.
This proverb simply means that debts should be taken on cautiously, because foreclosure is very painful. These pithy sayings should be seen as pointing toward the broader concept rather than expressing something technical.
Proverbs are worded so that one can remember them, not worded so that they express accurateness. No proverb is a complete statement of truth. No proverb is worded so that it can stand up to the unreasonable demand that it applies to every situation on all occasions. Wisdom is knowing when and where proverbs are useful. Consider Proverbs 26.4-5:
Do not answer a fool according to his folly
or you will be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly
or he will be wise in his own eyes.
Proverbs often need to be culturally updated to make sense. A lot of the proverbs express their truth according to practices which no longer exist for us. We need to put these proverbs into a modern equivalent.
Proverbs 25.24 reads:
Better to live on a corner of the roof,
than to share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
We could translate this as follows: It is better to live in a doghouse than in a spacious house with a woman/man who bitches all the time.
We need to understand that these little pithy sayings are to lead us to wisdom in life, not to undo decisions that we have already made.
Why all this information about Proverbs? Because many of the ideas we are considering in this session take their texts from Proverbs. We should know something about the kind of literature we are reading so we don’t make God say something he never intended to say.
Three Ways God Provides to Increase Wealth
There are three ways that God provides for us to increase wealth. They are: working, saving, and planning.
Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest (Proverbs 6.6-8)
Anyone can become destitute financially because of laziness. The Hebrew word translated sluggard is only used in Proverbs (6.6; 6.9; 10.26; 13.4; 15.19; 19.24; 20.4; 21.25; 22.13; 24.30; 26.13; 26.14; 26.15; 26.16). A lazy, undependable person can learn about work from taking note of the ant. Ants are known for their industrious ways. They are praised here for their ingenuity. They have no commander to direct them, no overseer to inspect their work, and no ruler to nudge them forward.
Yet, they perform their work better than many people who work for bosses. This is a picture of a creature who has no one to tell him what, when, and where to do work but still gets the job done. Those who tend to be lazy should learn from this bit of wisdom.
All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty (Proverbs 14.23).
The person who works will gain money, while those who talk about work become poor.
Sluggards do not plow in season;
so at harvest time they look but finds nothing. (Proverbs 20.4)
If you don’t work, you don’t make money.
For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.
We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. (2 Thess. 3.10-11).
These verses are set in the overall context of Paul’s teaching about the Second Coming of Jesus. There was much confusion in the ecclesiae at Thessalonica about this topic. Some had apparently decided to quit their occupations and simply wait for the soon coming of Jesus. For this action, Paul says that a person who refuses to work and becomes a burden on the rest of the community is not to be supported by the community in this action. This becomes an expression of real love because idlers are not allowed to exploit those who labor faithfully. By extension we learn that work is the way to make our living.
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8).
I have placed this text last because it is often interpreted as speaking about work even though the word is not mentioned. It is important to note that this is often-quoted specifically-to-males verse is located in the context of Christian duties to widows (1 Tim. 5.3-16). In these verses, Paul told the ecclesiae at Ephesus that they must ascertain whether a widow is really in need. Children or grandchildren should take care of their parents or grandparents. By taking care of them, they repay those family members for caring for them. This is pleasing to God because it puts one’s beliefs into action. A widow who is all alone and has no family to care for her is really in need. She must depend on God for her help. On the other hand, a widow who is living a sinful life is spiritually dead and should never be given aid from the ecclesiae while making the choices that lead to such death (1 Tim. 5.6). The followers of Jesus must care for their own widows. This concept is so important for the family of God that to fail to provide for relatives, especially the immediate family, is to deny one’s own relationship to Jesus and to act far worse than nonbelievers, who often realized their need to provide for their families and did so.
The Contemporary English Version (CEV) translates this verse as: “People who don’t take care of their relatives, and especially their own families, have given up their faith. They are worse than someone who doesn’t have faith in the Lord.” The word provide (used only two other times in the Second Testament; Rom. 12.17; 2 Cor. 8.21) means “to think ahead, to provide by seeing needs in advance.” Provide may include work but does not mean work. There were at least two words available to Paul if he had specifically meant work. The essence of this passage is that a responsible believer will take care of his or her family.
In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil,
but a foolish man devours all he has (Proverbs 21.20).
A wise person sets aside some of his/her belongings for an unexpected time. A fool spends everything he has. A wise person will store up food like an ant who is preparing for winter (Prov. 6.6-8). On the other hand, a foolish person is shortsighted. When one cares about the pleasures of the present time and does not save for the future, he/she simply consumes all his food and has nothing to eat between now and the harvest. When you live day-to-day, it’s hard not to be the fool. One reasonable way to think about savings is to put aside something of what you have when you can. It’s tough, but it’s wise. God’s procedure is to spend some and save some.
Planning is God’s way for us to handle his money. Remember, all the money belongs to God. We are only managing it for him. Most people think that when they have given their “tenth,” the rest belongs to them. Not so! It all belongs to God. Someone once said that if we handled the money of a corporation the way we handle our own money they would put us in prison for misuse of funds. Planning and keeping records seem to have a Scriptural basis.
By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures (Proverbs 24.3-4).
It takes planning to build anything. The Living Bible paraphrases this verse as follows: “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.” This proverb may refer to the literal building of houses, but as the Living Bible has paraphrased it, it may refer to the undertaking of any enterprise. Wisdom (God) contributes to security and prosperity.
Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds;
for riches do not endure forever,
and a crown is not secure for all generations (Proverbs 27.23-24).
This little bit of wisdom says that we should know the condition of the flocks we have. Flocks were one of the ways the ancients had of making money. It was their work. We need to know what our work condition is because the money it produces will not last forever. This piece of wisdom indicates is that we should tend to our work condition so that we continue to earn an income.
4 God wants us to live in Freedom
Living in Freedom
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law (Romans 13.8)
This verse is one of the most often misquoted verses in Scripture. Well, truth be known, all verses quoted to prove a point that was other than the point that the author was making when he was writing is misquoted. Because of this, we will spend some time trying to understand what it means within its context. Nothing in Scripture teaches against debt. Rather, Scripture teaches how to handle debt. Your local Christian bookstores are flooded with writers who harangue their readers with a debt-free philosophy. By their debt-free rhetoric, they enslave thousands by putting them into financial and spiritual bondage. They have become the new Pharisees of the day and should give attention to the words of Jesus recorded for us by Matthew, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them” (Matt. 23.2-4). I don’t believe they intend to bring people under bondage, but this is the result of their pomposity. The recipients of this debt-free teaching often wind up feeling hobbled in regards to their financial prerogatives. The end result of this teaching is that those who go into debt for any reason often equate this with being unfaithful to God based on a misteaching of the Romans 13.8 passage.
The larger context of this passage begins at Romans 12.1 where Paul begins to apply the theology that he has presented in chapters 1-11. In this section, Paul exposes his readers to their personal responsibilities as a follower of Jesus. He informs them about:
- how they are to serve others (Rom. 12.3-8)
- how to love without hypocrisy (Rom. 12.9-13)
- how to treat their enemies (Rom. 12.15-21)
- how to relate to the government (Rom. 13.1-7)
- how to handle debt (Rom. 13.8-10)
- how to be alert (Rom. 13.11-14)
The first seven verses of chapter 13 deal with Jesus followers’ responsibility to be a good citizen. Verse 7 says that we are to give to everyone what we owe them. Paul mentions taxes and tributes in the money category. The taxes that are referred to are the local taxes that had to be paid, which were many. There were import and export taxes, taxes to cross bridges and use main roads, taxes to enter into markets, taxes for the animals you owned, and taxes to drive carts and wagons. Sounds somewhat familiar, huh? Paul also refers to revenue. By revenue, he means what was paid to the government to whom the local person was subject. Three such revenues were collected by the Roman government. The first was a ground tax. A person had to pay one-tenth of all the grain, one-fifth of the wine and fruit produced by the ground that was owned. Second, there was an income tax which was one percent of a person’s income. Finally, there was a poll tax which was paid by everyone between the ages of fourteen and sixty-five. These revenues and taxes were to be paid by followers of Jesus. Being a citizen of the kingdom of God did not reduce their responsibility to be a good citizen even in this present evil age.
On the heels of this verse is our verse. The NIV translates the verse: “Let no debt remain outstanding…” In the older KJV which is often quoted, it reads, “Owe no man anything.” The NIV catches the flavor of the present tense of the text and it could be translated, “Do not keep owing anyone anything.” This means when a payment is due on a bill, we are to pay it. This verse does not teach that we should not use credit. It does not teach that we should never incur financial obligations or that we may never borrow (Ex. 22.25; Ps. 37.26; Matt. 5.42; Luke 6.35). This verse is an exhortation to consistently and appropriately meet our economic debts. When we do, we honor Jesus.
The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is slave to the lender (Proverbs 22.7)
Just as the rich will lord it over the poor, the borrower is under constant obligation to the person from whom he has borrowed. This obligation is to pay back what is owed in a timely fashion. To become over-obligated, so that you cannot pay your debts, is to become a slave to the lender. Remember, these pithy bits of wisdom should not be isolated and made into a code of moralistic behavior. Wisdom is knowing when they should be used.
Learn to be a Giver Not a Loaner
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (1 John 3.17)
If a brother or sister presents you with a legitimate need and you have the resources to meet the need, then give them the money. There are legitimate loaners of money in the world. But, the followers of Jesus should not meet each other’s financial needs with loans, but with gifts. Remember, all money belongs to God. We are just the managers of it.
5. Short of Money?
It seems more than not that the followers of Jesus come up short in the money department. Why is this so? Here are some lifestyle areas that we should give attention to and change where God calls us to change.
One man gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty (Proverbs 11.24)
If you are stingy with what God gives you, you will come up short.
Remember, 2 + 2 + God = MORE! This pithy saying encourages generosity. By freely giving, a person will have plenty. This seems like a paradox to us, but it is true. A person who is tight-fisted and will not help his brother or sister will find himself in need.
Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame,
but whoever heeds correction is honored (Proverbs 13.18)
This is the attitude that says, “I am going to spend my money however I well please and no one is going to tell me how to spend it.” Poverty and shame await that person. However, being corrected of that attitude brings honor.
The plans of the diligent lead to profit
as surely as haste leads to poverty (Proverbs 21.5)
Impulse-buying can cause one trouble financially. If you tend to get all excited when you see something you want and your emotions drive you to buy it on the spot, you will soon be poor. A person who plans will profit, while a person who makes hasty decisions without thinking them through soon finds poverty.
Indulgence and Laziness
Do not join those who drink too much wine
or gorge themselves on meat,
for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
and drowsiness clothes them in rags (Proverbs 23.20-21).
Could it be that you don’t have any money because you overindulge in your spending and the end result is that you become drowsy (the word could be translated by our word lazy)?
Those who work their land will have abundant food,,
but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty (Proverbs 28.19).
This bit of wisdom is self-explanatory. Watch out for those get-rich- schemes! They will lead you to poverty.
6. Three More Tips from Proverbs
If we honor God with wealth he provides, he will bless us in return.
Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine (Proverbs 3.9-10).
Honor in verse 9 is an imperative. We are to honor God by giving him our wealth (money), by giving to him first before we are assured that we will receive anything else. The Jews lived in a farming society. To give God their firstfruits was to give him all they had produced to that point. It was a way of expressing gratitude to God for his provisions (Deut.26.1-3) and acknowledging his ownership over everything before they enjoyed anything for themselves. Verse 10 then suggests the result of obeying the command. One may say, in general, that it is true that following this pithy saying will produce the intended result. But, to generalize does not disallow God from making exceptions. Otherwise, we would be worshiping a God we are investing in rather than a God who is to be honored because he is the giver of the investment.
A passion for money causes us to lose more than we gain
Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
do not trust your own cleverness.
Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
for they will surely sprout wings
and fly off to the sky like an eagle (Proverbs 23.4-5).
This is the seventh of ten sayings (Proverbs 22.22-23.:11) and warns the reader against overworking to gain money. It is not an indictment against being hard-working, but against being consumed with work for the sake of money. To restrain is to be wise. Why should one restrain from being driven to find riches? Because riches are temporary and unstable. To “cast but a glance” could be translated “cause your eye to fly after,” which helps us understand the rest of the NIV translation. If you allow your eye to fly after riches, riches will sprout wings and fly off like an eagle. The word to the wise is to set one’s passion toward a goal of something other than riches. For even if one gains the goal and becomes rich, often the result is that the riches one has worked so hard to obtain simply vanishes.
The more money the more complicated life can become
A false sense of security
The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;
they imagine it a wall too high to scale (Proverbs 18.11).
Those who are wealthy often believe that their money can protect them from harm. In the ancient world, the image for security was a high city wall that would protect those inside from attacks from enemy troops. In today’s society, it would be like placing one’s trust in a security system in one’s car or home and develop a false sense of security.
Money will not shield people from problems. Money cannot replace God as a base for security. Money can cause us to feel smug, secure, untouchable, and unaccountable as if we could make it without God’s help.
New friends by the bushel
The poor are shunned even by their neighbors
but the rich have many friends (Proverbs 14.20).
This saying is straight forward. Poor people are not attractive to be around because it is felt they have nothing to offer. On the other hand, rich people have a constant barrage of those who want to be friends with hopes of sharing the good fortune of the rich person. Money draws people like a flower draws bees, or a picnic draws people, or dung draws flies.
Pride and arrogance
A poor plead for mercy,
but the rich answer harshly (Proverbs 18.23).
It is unfortunate that when a poor person makes a plea for mercy from a rich person, he or she is often met with harsh words. Arrogant treatment of those who are less fortunate is not God’s heart.
Wisdom helps us understand the value of money
Choose my instruction instead of silver
knowledge rather than choice gold,
for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her (Proverbs 8.10-11).
The value of riches is only understood by acquiring God’s wisdom about money. Wisdom is personified in this passage as someone to be followed so that one can acquire prudence for wise living. Instruction/ knowledge is greater than silver/gold. Wisdom is better than rubies.
Silver was the most common precious metal in Palestine. Gold was more difficult to obtain, so it carried a higher value in currency. The exact meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated ruby is uncertain. Some translate it “red coral,” while others translate it “pearl.” Some suggest the word refers to the pink pearls found in the Red Sea. It is most likely a pearl. Today a ruby is a deep red, translucent variety of the mineral corundum, highly valued as a precious stone. The intended meaning of this saying is that the value of wisdom exceeds wealth. This saying does not suggest that wealth is inappropriate, but that wisdom is of greater value. It does suggest that wisdom will help us gain the understanding we need about the value of money.
Where We Have Been And Where We Are Going
If you come up short of money, take a look at these bits of wisdom and see if they are helpful. God wants you to have enough money to live and meet your needs. He also wants you to have enough money so you can respond with faithfulness to the leading of the Holy Spirit to give. If you are living in an attitude of poverty, it’s time to break out and become free.
Remember, if we honor God with the wealth he provides, he will bless us in return. If we turn our passion toward money, we will lose more than we gain. If we did win the Lotto or gain a large inheritance, or simply work hard and gain the money, the book of Proverbs says that we would develop a false sense of security, we would have more friends than we ever wanted, and we would have the tendency to become proud as if we had earned the money ourselves. Finally, Wisdom will help us acquire the understanding we need about the value of money.
Next, we turn our attention to how mankind sees money. We will discuss the concept of “the love of money” and the “consequences of the love of money.”
Community Discussion Questions
➡ |CDQ Info|
- What has been the result in your life when you took the glory for producing the wealth you have?
- How does living in the past often affect the present?
- What can you do to change your spiritual attitude about the source of all that you have?
- What have you self-sacrificed lately to provide for those who are in need around you?
- In what way can you introduce enjoyment into your life?
- How would you define work in today’s culture?
- What practical way can you begin including the concept of saving into your lifestyle?
- What biblical plan do you have to help you increase finances in your life?
- How has a misunderstanding of Proverbs 13.9 cause pain and suffering in your spiritual journey? What can you do to change?
- Which one of the four areas, stinginess, pig-headedness, hastiness, and fantasy chaser do you have the most trouble with? Why?
- What are three (3) ways that can you begin now to honor God with your wealth?
- If you are overworking to gain money, what do you need to do to change your lifestyle?
- How have you trusted in money only to discover that your trust did not bring you the security you sought?
- Why are you attracted to those who have money? What do you expect to gain?
- How does wisdom protect us from pride and arrogance in relationship to money?