Solomon on Money
(Part 2 of 3)
THE BOOK OF PROVERBS HAS much to say about the wise use of money. In our previous article we learned from the wisdom of Solomon concerning our THINKING about money, the responsibility of EARNING money and the practice of BORROWING and LENDING money. We may have recognized a need to adjust our attitude about money in these areas in order to conform to Biblical principles. This week we will continue our study as we observe a few more points of Divine wisdom from the Book of Proverbs pertaining to how we use money.
There is nothing wrong with spending money. There is nothing wrong with spending a-lot of money. However, there may be something wrong with HOW we are spending money. For example, if we are neglecting to purchase or invest in things that we need in order to spend money on things we don't need, then we are spending foolishly. Wisdom and self-discipline are needed in this area. The wise man of Proverbs tells us, "He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame" (13:18). Wise spending is the result of thinking and planning ahead, i.e. budgeting, However, many people throw discipline out the window when spending money. The only rule is "how much can I beg, borrow and steal" then we proceed to spend until all resources are used up. Again we hear from Proverbs, "In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has" (21:20). If we have trouble controlling our spending habits Solomon tells us to take drastic measures, ". . . and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony" (23:2). I suppose gluttony can apply to our consumption of things as well as food.
WHY we spend money can be as much of a problem as HOW we spend. Spending for many people is not just a matter of deciding what is needed, then going out and finding that item at the lowest cost. Modern shopping is about fulfilling emotional needs. We have a disease called "stuffitis" and it is treated with heavy doses of spending. People go out to the malls and spend because it make them feel good. For many, shopping thus becomes a sort of confidence builder. There is a certain pretentiousness involved in the shopping habits of people in our materialistic culture; a pretentiousness that is condemned. Note the following: "Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant, than pretend to be somebody and have no food" (12:9). "One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth" (13:7). We should not depend on spending to bolster a false confidence. Exercising self-discipline and bringing our spending habits under the control of God will produce a true confidence that spending cannot duplicate. Proverbs 3:26 states "for the Lord will be your confidence"
A discussion about spending is also a discussion about saving. Uncontrolled spending will undermine saving, whereas a disciplined savings plan will control spending. I once heard about an old man who preached for some denominational church. He had maintained a very modest income during all the years of his preaching life but retired with more that two million dollars in the bank. How did he do it? By saving a little at a time, consistently over many years. The wisdom of such discipline is reflected in Proverbs 13:11, which states: "Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow." Verse 18 of the same chapter says, "He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame . . ."
The principle of compound interest working together with the lifelong habit of saving a little each week will provide all the savings you will ever need, not only in retirement, but also for all the material possessions a reasonable person would ever need. However, you are not likely to learn these common sense principles in high school or college business classes. The financial wisdom taught by the world is based on making a high annual income, the crafty use of credit and the benefits of government hand-out programs. Some folks sell little kits that teach the concept of "get rich quick". You see such offerings advertised on radio and TV (not to mention telephone poles at intersections). But such will never come close to providing for you financially like the application of the principles found in the Bible. Our strong recommendation is that you go with God's wisdom. Note the following passages from the wisdom of Solomon: "The plans of the diligent lead to profit, as surely as haste leads to poverty" (21:5). "The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor" (10:15). "In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has" (21:20). All these passages speak of the wisdom of saving.
(Series to be concluded in August)
By Edward C. Barnes
From Expository Files 14.6; June 2007