The Bible tells us that there are many causes of poverty: injustice and disaster being two of them. This post is not to address those real issues that are out of the control of individuals.
Nevertheless, Proverbs also makes clear that there are some actions that lead toward poverty and some that lead toward wealth. In general, to paint with a very broad brush, as men and women grow in godliness, they will also become better stewards of God’s money. God’s wisdom often leads to an increased standard of living. And yet, too many are ignorant of these things.
I do not claim to be an expert in finances, but I wonder how many are suffering because they do not understand and practice what Proverbs says about money. I wish parents, pastors, and teachers would articulate and encourage these principles.
While these are not the gospel, they are not antithetical to the gospel. Wise living never is. Thankfully, some of these principles were ingrained in me as a child without even knowing it. Some I have discovered and started to practice over time as an adult.
1. We work hard as unto the Lord. We show up for work, take responsibility, and take pride in an honest day’s work. We work hard even when we don’t feel like it and even when no one is watching. We do this for the Lord, for his reputation, and for our own self-dignity. We must fight our natural laziness. Prov 6:6-11, 10:4, 12:24, 27, 18:9, 20:4.
2. We are honest in our dealings. We need to state the obvious. Those who are trustworthy will rise to positions of influence. In general, those who lie and deceive will not (politics excepted). Prov 16:13
3. We save and don’t waste our money. This is a big one. We live on less than we earned. We don’t consume all we have. We save – preparing for hard times or to invest. Prov 6:6-8, 13:11, 21:17, 20, 31:21
4. We don’t show off our wealth. Modesty is part of the Christian life. Just because we have something doesn’t mean we can or should show it off. Prov 12:9, 13:7
5. We invest in ownership of tools and real property and we take care of that property. Real property usually grows in value. Tools help up be more productive. We take care of our things. We keep them in good working order and good repair. Prov 12:11, 14:4, 27:23-27, 31:16, 19
6. We keep things clean and orderly. Similar to #5 but here we reflect on the idea that God is a god of order. Lack of wealth does not have to equate to clutter and dirtiness. Details matter. Orderliness matters. Prov 24:30-31
7. We become more skilled in our work so as to invest in ourselves, serve others better, and increase our income. There are different skills in work. We can grow in becoming more skillful to serve others better. Prov 22:29, 24:3-4, 31:24
8. We become more skillful in learning to make money. We realize that wealth can be created. The person who turns steel into a paper clip creates wealth and helps society. The person who turns steal into a computer motherboard creates more wealth and helps society even more. Prov 22:29, 24:5, 31:16
9. We honor the Lord with the wealth we have created. And we are generous to others. After all, he has given us the ability to create wealth. It is his money. Prov 3:9-10, 14:21, 19:17, 31:20
10. We desire to leave an inheritance to our children. We are forward thinking and hopeful. Prov 13:22, 19:14
11. We help others in our community by making things a little better than when we arrived. It is not “someone else’s job.” This principle flows from being generous and loving others. We pick up trash that is not ours so that the community is more clean than it was. Prov 11:11
12. We use our hunger to drive us on. Deprivation is not a bad thing. It can drive us to improve our lot. Riches can be suffocating and deadening. Prov 16:36
Many biblical principles are not included in this list from Proverbs: the importance of faith and hope, the importance of being teachable, the principle of being faithful in little, the benefit of being around people who know how to honestly make money, etc.
Nevertheless, how much better would we as a people be, if we were careful with our money, saving for the future, spending less than we take in, taking care of our things, and investing.
How many of those, who seemed to be trapped in poverty, would benefit from understanding these principles? How many of those who look “financially successful” would lead a more peaceful, godly life by practicing some of these principles?