- What are some of the dangers of money?
- We’re told to pray, “Give me neither poverty nor riches” (Prov.30). Why should we seek to avoid extremes with our money? What role does contentment have in this?
- What does it mean to be shrewd with our money? How can we use our money wisely? (what does wisdom require for our spending, saving, and planning?)
- There is a major emphasis on giving to the poor in Proverbs. Why do you think that is so important? How can you be generous to the poor?
- What are your biggest struggles and temptations when it comes to money?
Proverbs (various) | Money
*This is a transcript from the sermon audio. This document has not been edited for spelling, grammar, or exactness.
All right, if you would like to grab a Bible, there are Bibles in the book racks in the chair in front of you. But we’re in a series going through the Book of Proverbs, and we’re now in a section of the book where everything is kind of scattered. So I’ll just warn you, if you try to keep up with me, we’re going to be all over the place. We’ll put the verses up on the screen. You can maybe just set stuff down for now and just listen, and then you can go back and double check all these references after the fact. Here’s the thing about the Book of Proverbs. It’s a book about wisdom, and it’s trying to learn how to live skillfully in the world that God has made. And God cares about everything about our lives. He cares about every detail, every category. He cares about everything about us. And one of the things that we’re recognizing is that God cares about money. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. He cares about the way that we relate to our resources. And so I want to spend some time today, and Proverbs has an awful lot to say about it, but we’ll organize it like this. There are three lessons that we can learn about money. The first is beware of it. Be aware that there are some dangers intrinsic to the way that we relate to money. The second thing that we’ll learn, and this is kind of generic, but we need to learn how to use our money wisely, which obviously, if we’re doing a series on wisdom and we’re talking about money, that one’s a pretty easy one. Then the final one is we want to actually be generous with our money and learn to give it away generously. So let’s get to work.
I’m going to pray, and then we’ll start cruising through these. Okay, let’s pray first. Lord, as we open Your word together, we’re praying that you, by Your Spirit would speak to us. And Lord, we want to be people who are wise. We want to be a people who are living skillfully in this world that You’ve made. And we want every aspect of our lives to come under the lordship of Christ, including the way that we deal with money. So, Lord, would you please use this time to instruct and teach us and help us to live faithfully for Your glory? Amen. Amen.
THE DANGER OF MONEY
First thing that I note here is this lesson that Proverbs gives us is the idea that we should be aware of money, that there are dangers intrinsic to the way that we relate to money. So proverbs 30. Let’s go there first. It’s a prayer, and it reads like this. This is Proverbs 30, verses seven to nine. It says, two things I ask of You, Lord, do not refuse me before I die. Okay, here’s the prayer, two prayer requests. The first one, we’re just going to skip over. It says, keep falsehood and lies far from me. That’s the first prayer request. It has to do with integrity and communication. That’s not our subject today. So that’s the first prayer request. He cruises through it. Then he says the second one, “Give me neither poverty nor riches but give me only my daily bread.” Here’s. Why? “Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, who is the Lord? Or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God.” So beware of the danger of money because there are these two things that could happen with it. On the one hand, if you have too much, there’s this danger of autonomy. There’s this danger of having all these resources and then not paying attention to God. I could have too much and disown you and say, who is the Lord? Deuteronomy Eight puts it like this it’s a similar lesson, but it’s right before the people of God are going into the Promised Land. And God speaks through his servant Moses and he warns them when you go in and you get the Promised Land filled with milk and honey and all these different things these fields that you did not plant and these homes that you did not build. And when you go in, be careful because there’s a danger there that what will happen is you will forget that it is the Lord who gifted this land to you and it says, your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God. You will forget God. Be careful. You’re going in, you’re going to get all these good things. So be careful because there’s this danger intrinsic with you having that much stuff where you might actually disregard God. And in fact, it says in verse 17 of Deuteronomy, chapter eight you may say to yourself my power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth. There’s a danger of having a lot of resources because what can happen is you can become forgetful of God. You can be forgetful of the God who gave you the ability to produce and the ability to enjoy. You can forget God. Now, this lesson came home for me. There was a stretch of my life where over twelve months I was in Africa twice. And you’re going to hear a lot about that today as our friends are here from Africa. Heather’s here today and she’s going to come and share in a little bit. But I remember that stretch where I went there the first two times that I had been there. And I was there and then I came home and I was kind of wrestling with that experience. And I remember thinking through there were these kids, these believers and they lived in the slum of Nairobi and the way that they would pray and their daily dependence on God was very obvious. So they would pray and they would literally be praying for their daily bread. I mean, not bread, but ugali. They’d be praying for their meal that day, and they weren’t certain as to whether or not they were going to get it. In fact, they’d go to school, and the school had a feeding program, but it wasn’t always well stocked. And so there was a chance that they would go to school and just be hungry that day. They wouldn’t eat, and so they would pray in that way. And it was impressive to me because I noted how sincere they were in their commitment to God, their daily expression of dependence upon God. And then I’m back stateside, and I’m noticing this in my own heart, and then I’m observing it in other people as well. And I began to think through this troubling thought, isn’t it weird that I could go through an entire day and not even give a thought to God? I’m not sitting around wondering if I’m going to eat that day. I know I have food. I know I have resources. I know I can do that. So there are these stretches where you can go without giving a consideration to God. And then I started to think, not just a day, this could go on for a stretch of days where I’m not really attentive to the things of God. And that started to really bug me. See, there’s a danger of having as much as we do from the perspective of the globe. We’re all incredibly wealthy compared to the global world, so we have a lot, and there’s a danger in that. There’s a danger that we do not give attention to God as we should. Now, obviously, you can live in Africa and not pray also, and you can live here and have all kinds of stuff and be very prayerful. But we have to note that there is a danger here about having a lot. And when you have a lot, you can have a forgetfulness of the God who gave you the ability to produce and receive wealth. So note that one, there’s a danger of having too much, but there’s also a danger in having too little. It says here if you experience poverty, it says, I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God. So if there’s a danger of having too much, there’s also a danger in having too little. Because when you have too little and you’re beginning to wonder, how can I make ends meet? How can I provide for myself and my family? There’s a temptation there to cut corners. There’s a saying that goes like this desperate people do desperate things. That when you don’t have enough and you’re trying to figure out, how can I make this work? There’s a temptation there to do something very desperate. And I began to think through, okay, if I were in the situation of some people, I’m fully capable of that, of doing something unethical to try to make it work. So be aware that there are dangers in both having too much money and having too little money. Be aware of money.
The second thing here, as we think about the warning of money and its intrinsic dangers, one of the things that we have to note is just the general relationship that we have toward money. A lot of people assume that if you have a lot of resources, everything just goes well for you. But that’s not the case. Proverbs tells us so. Proverbs 15, verse 16 says, better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil. Some of us assume that if we just had a lot of resources, life would go pretty swimmingly. But the Bible says, no, that’s not how it works exactly. You might have a lot of resources, but you could be living in turmoil. You could have a lot of resources, and you could keep throwing money at stuff, thinking, this will get better, this will get better. I’ve got enough. I’m going to get more, but I’m just going to keep throwing money at it. But you would have chaos and turmoil, interpersonal conflict and these sorts of things. And it says it’s better. The Bible gives us this assessment, it’s better to have less and to have the fear of the Lord. When you’re prioritizing your life and you’re trying to think through, what am I giving myself to? And a lot of us are just chasing after wealth. The thing that we should be pursuing is the wisdom of God, the fear of the Lord, because if you have that, even if you don’t have very many resources, you’re in a better situation. The New Testament puts it like this. In one Timothy six, it says, for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. You can be chasing after money, and we’re warned in the Old Testament and the New Testament that that can actually be troubling. It can cause you many problems, many griefs. So be careful about the way that you relate to money. Do not chase after it. Proverbs 23, verses four and five, do not wear yourself out to get rich. Do not trust your own cleverness cast. But a glance at riches and they’re gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. If you’re just designing your life to try to get more resources, understand this resources are fleeting, and you will never feel as though you have enough. The better strategy is to become content. So the big question then, as we think about the dangers of money, the big question we need to wrestle with is what is our relationship to money today? How do we view money? Do we understand that there are some dangers inherent to having too much or too little or to giving too much consideration to it. Do we understand that this is an important thing for us to bring into the light and into the Lordship of Jesus Christ?
LEARN TO USE MONEY WISELY
The second thing that we find here, the second big lesson is that we need to learn how to use money wisely. Three things here we want to earn it honestly, view it realistically and handle it shrewdly. The first thing when we’re thinking about how to use money wisely, one of the lessons that we get in the book of Proverbs is the importance of just doing hard work to earn money. Earn your money honestly. It’s a good thing to have a job where you work diligently and you get rewarded for that. Proverbs 1311 dishonest money dwindles away. But whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow. If you learn how to enjoy your work, then you will earn this money and it will grow little by little because you’ll have a healthier relationship to it. But dishonest money or easy money or money that you come into by strategies that are unethical, that money just dwindles away. We need to learn how to earn our money honestly. Lately I’ve been reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. It’s a classic book. It’s about a family during the time of Nazi Germany. They live in Holland and they own a watch shop and it’s a time of war and it’s a time of hardship. But I was thinking about it because I was reading it yesterday and they had very, very little. I mean, they worked very hard in their watch shop and they did these different things, but they had very little. But then what you note as they describe kind of the ordinary rhythm of life, what they had, they were able to make very useful. They were able to use it in all kinds of ways. They could stretch their resources for their own family, but then also for their community as well as people continue to come into their home and receive blessings from them. We need to earn our money honestly because then all of a sudden, even if we have very little, we learn to relate to that money in a way that’s actually helpful. And we can take that little and we can stretch it and make it do all kinds of wonderful things. So earn money honestly. Proverbs 1211 says those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense. If you learn how to work your land, you will have abundance. But if you’re chasing after fantasies, you have no sense. What I think the Bible is instructing us on is the importance of just good hard work. And if you learn how to do that, then what you have is sufficient. In the New Testament, I mean, it puts it plain as day in multiple places where it says to us things like this one. Thessalonians four, verse eleven, mind your business and work with your hands, and that will be commendable to God. We need to learn how to work hard. Proverbs 21 six a fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare. If you’re earning your money in a way that you feel like you are making some unethical choices, to have that money, that money is a problem and that money is a vapor and a deadly snare. Learn to earn your money honestly. Learn to view your money realistically. It’s not everything. Proverbs eleven four wealth is worthless in the Day of Wrath. Righteousness delivers from death. Wealth is worthless on the Day of Judgment. If you come into the Day of Judgment, you’re like, hey, I designed my entire life to accumulate a lot of money and you might have a huge account, but on the Day of Judgment, that amounts to nothing. What we ought to have done is we ought to have designed our life around the idea of living right before God. Righteousness delivers from death. So if you’re trying to design your life and you’re going, okay, I have some choices here, I can work really hard. I can chase after these vocations and these dreams that will pay me very handsomely. I can do these different things. That’s one way to do it. But the Bible suggests otherwise, that it would be a better use of your time and your energy and your resources to pursue the things of God, to seek first his righteousness and his kingdom. And all these other things will be given as well. Money isn’t everything, and it cannot give you everything. Proverbs 1128 those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. If you pursue the things of God, you will be in good shape. So view money realistically, then finally handle it. Shrewdly. Proverbs 27. It’s a lengthier passage here. I’m going to read it and then we’ll take some time to unpack what it means. But listen to this, and we’ll put it up on the screen. It says, be sure to 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. When the hay is removed and new growth appears, and the grass from the hills is gathered in, the lambs will provide you with clothing and the goats with the price of a field, you will have plenty of goats milk to feed your family and nourish your female servants. Okay? Weird, right? What does that have to do with money? Well, in the ancient Near East, they didn’t have credit cards, they didn’t have all these other things. They had their source of income, and then they had flocks and herds and different things like that. This is telling us in principal form, it’s important for us today to be attentive to the big financial picture that we’re living in. Pay attention to the condition of your flocks. Meaning, pay attention to your financial resources. Pay attention to where they come from and in what condition they’re in. Pay attention. You ought to know these things, because verse 24 riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations. There might be a day of trouble. And if you come into financial catastrophe, you better be certain that you have a good plan in place. If you’re aware of your flock and the condition of it. You would have goats, and you would have lambs that would provide you with clothing, and you would have goats milk to feed your family. In other words, it’s saying, do you have a plan if things go sideways now, the Pandemic, it did at least this. It reminded us that life is unpredictable. I remember sociologists, and I didn’t track down which one said this, but I remember hearing this multiple times. We were reminded in the midst of the Pandemic that we have lived through a very abnormal season of history, where it has felt, for most of us, very stable, very predictable. We assume everything just kind of gets better, that our personal finances are just going to continue to grow, that our income streams are just going to get bigger as we get older, and these sorts of things, that everything is just kind of working out in that direction. That’s not the way that human history ordinarily works. You look at any slice of human history, it’s not like what we have lived through. There’s often been difficulty and strife and hardship, and the Pandemic reminded us of that in different ways. But one of the things we have to be aware of then is we can’t assume that everything is just going to look like it has for us. Five years down the line, ten years down the line, 20 years down the line. What happens if a source of your income is no longer available to you? What happens if something happens, a catastrophe happens in your family and you no longer have the same privileges that you have today? Pay attention to the condition of your flocks, because, listen, the world is unpredictable. And do you have a handle on the current condition of your finances? And then what would happen in the day of disaster? Have a plan. This is reminding us to pay attention and plan for the future, to have a diversity of thought in the way in which you could rely on your resources to help you in that time of need. So, very practically, the Bible gives us some teaching on the importance of giving consideration to our finances. And it’s easy to just lay it down in these three categories. There’s obviously money, resources that we need to spend. When you spend that money, you should be attentive to it. What are the things that you spend your resources on a second big category. And I think this passage is kind of getting at this idea is we should save money. We should actually be thinking about how do we put money aside in the event that the future is uncertain and unpredictable and we would have to rely on that. We should be saving money as well. And then finally we should be generous. There should be a portion of our resources that we have designated for giving away and helping those in need. We need to be careful with how we handle our money. We should handle it. Shrewdly. Let me just kind of ask a rhetorical question. Are we doing this? Are we sitting with our finances and looking at them and talking through them and praying through? How can we use our money in a way that is pleasing to you, God? This is not some category that is off limits to discipleship. This is at the heart of our human experience. We need money. We use money daily. Are we paying attention to it so that it is coming under the lordship of Christ? Let’s be wise with our resources.
The third category then is that we should give money away generously. And we see this in a few different ways. We’re told that a generous person is commendable. Verse 25 of chapter eleven. A generous person will prosper whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. A generous person. God looks at that and he says that is wonderful. That person is helping other people and they themselves are being refreshed. Then the very next verse, it warns us about being stingy. People curse the one who hoards grain, but they pray God’s blessing on the one who’s willing to sell. If you are sitting around and you’re hoarding your resources and you’re like, I don’t want anyone to touch this. I’m not willing to part ways with this. This is mine. You’re hoarding your own stuff. People curse that we have movies about that people do not like those who are stingy. But the blessing of God is on those who are willing to help other people. So we should be a generous people. And specifically in the book of Proverbs, it gives a huge emphasis in this idea of helping the poor. Let’s look at it. Chapter 21, verse 13. It says whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered. So we should be willing to help those who are in need. And be careful that we’re not dismissive of that because we’re being warned here. If you’re turning your ears off to the cries of people who are in desperate need, it shouldn’t surprise us when our prayers are going unanswered. Proverbs 1431 whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker. But whoever is kind to the needy honors God. So you want to be and I want to be we want to be the kind of people who are seeing the need in the world and we’re moving toward it. And we have the ability to be helpful there that we would be kind and generous to those who are poor. Finally, chapter 19, verse 17 whoever is kind to the poor, lends to the Lord and he will reward them for what they have done. So God sees when we are generous with our resources, we want to be a generous people. We want to look to those who are in need and think strategically of how can we be helpful? It’s interesting. Right now we’re drafting a document on a benevolence fund because being generous to the poor is not a straightforward thing all the time. And in fact, you have to be very shrewd in the way that you think about it, because as needs arise within our community and people show up on our doorstep as a church, we want to say, hey, we’ve made provisions for this, we’re ready to help. But at the same time, we have to be wise enough to know giving somebody money isn’t always the most helpful thing. In fact, that could be enabling them to continue in a pathway that is damaging to their ability to live well. So we’re trying to figure out how do we do this? We want to be generous to those who are needy, but we want everything that we do to actually be helpful. So we are partnering with local organizations to say, hey, we won’t always give checks away or gas cards or cash, but we will have some direct on ramps to some very helpful things. For instance, a food pantry. Some of our kids are a part of a co op in Roscoe here, and there’s a food pantry. And we want to partner with that food pantry to supply some of the food that they would need. But we also then want to be able to take the residents from here that are saying, hey, we don’t have enough. And we can say, well, we’ve already got a direct line to be helpful here. We can make that warm invitation for you to go to that food pantry and receive the groceries that you might need. But we want to be able to help those who are in this condition, and we want to do it in a way that actually is very, very helpful. Everything that I’m describing here today, we’re trying to do as a church. We’re trying to do not only as individual families and individuals managing our own resources, but as a church. We want to say, hey, this stuff matters to God. We want our money the way that we view money, the way that we handle money. We want this to be honorable to God. We want it to be honest and full of integrity and transparent, and we want you guys to be confident in it. And we want to be generous. And one of the things that we’ve done as a church is. We’ve targeted a handful of different organizations, both locally and globally, that are advancing the mission. And we recognize we could spend a lot of money on us. We have this very old building. Very old building. I woke up this morning and I was like, I wonder how much water is in the building, right? Because some of you are sitting under drip spots. I’m like, I wonder how full of water this thing is. And we could spend a lot of money on us. But what we’re doing is we’re saying, okay, as money comes in, we’re setting money aside to give it away. And we’re giving away a portion of our resources to organizations that can help in these different ways. Because, listen, how we handle money is a part of life, and God cares about the entirety of our lives. Everything that we do, we want it to be pleasing to God at a personal level and also as a church. So may we handle money in a way that is honoring to God.
Let’s pray. Lord, we ask for help on these things. We’re grateful that your Word is straightforward and clear and practical. And so, Lord, we pray that you would help us today to evaluate the way in which we relate to money, being aware that there are dangers. And we pray that you would please help us to manage the money that we have wisely. Let us be careful with it, and let us be strategic with it. And let the choices that we make reflect your heart and your passions. And, Lord, help us to be generous, always ready to give to those who are in need, but careful in the way in which we do that so that our gifts might actually be helpful to them. Help us to do this, Lord. We need your wisdom. We need your help. We pray in Jesus name. Amen. Amen.