My Wealth Before God

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Regardless of your political leanings, both Democrats and Republicans agree that the economy is an important issue for the news and for future elections. Of course, there are differing solutions to how best maximize the economy. Yet, when it comes to money everyone is paying attention.

As believers, we have an insider stock tip. Investment experts known as market timers read signs that the stock market is about to take a downward turn, then recommend switching funds immediately into more dependable vehicles such as money markets, treasury bills, or certificates of deposit.

Jesus functions here as the foremost market timer. He tells us to once and for all switch investment vehicles. He instructs us to transfer our funds from earth (which is volatile and ready to take a permanent dive) to heaven (which is totally dependable, insured by God Himself, and is coming soon to forever replace earth’s economy)… You can’t take it with you – but you can send it on ahead.”[1]

Today’s message will examine from the book of Proverbs, Our Wealth Before God.

lifeInProverbs_SPBC

EXAMINE               Proverbs provides at least 4 general characteristics concerning wealth.

Wisdom precedes wealth.

A healthy reminder about how Proverbs views wealth is that one obtains wealth by pursuing wisdom.  The issue before God is not whether you are wealthy or poor but whether you are wise or foolish; righteous or wicked. Many people love wealth rather than wisdom; they seek money rather than God. Therefore, Proverbs tells us that only the wise are truly wealthy.

Proverbs 3:13-15 “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.”

Proverbs 8:10-11  “Take my instruction instead of silver and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.”

Proverbs 8:18-21 “Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, even find gold, and my yield than choice silver… granting an inheritance to those who love me and filling their treasuries.”

Proverbs 16:16 “How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.”

  • Jesus is our greatest treasure.
    Money cannot buy love and salvation. The treasure of life and investments of wealth we should make are toward the wisdom of God. Further, money in this world is only a mask for temporary satisfaction. Our aim must be for eternity.

Proverbs 11:4 “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”

Proverbs 15:16 “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.”

Proverbs 16:8 “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.

Proverbs 19:1 “Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.”

Proverbs 23:4-5 “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.”

Proverbs 28:6 “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”

Ecclesiastes 5:10 “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.”

Isaiah 55:1-3 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come,buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your

money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to

me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant”

  • People with wisdom are a treasure to our life.

Proverbs 20:15 “There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”
Genuine friendships are an immeasurable worth. Life challenges & crisis reveal this fact.

  • Wealthy wise people understand that money is about stewardship.
    • View money as tainted: tain’t yours, taint mine, tis God’s
  • Wealthy foolish (wicked) people are materialistic.
    • Many professional athletes & celebs go bankrupt… how is this possible? Foolish!
    • They end up not only using money but using people.
    • If we worship wealth then we waste our life; but if we worship with our wealth in stewardship based on God’s perspective then we end up winning in life and in eternity.

Wealth is not evil though it may be obtained by evil means.

It needs to be said that wealth, of itself, is not evil. It is “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1Timothy 6:10). Proverbs 22:2 “The rich and poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all.”

  • Wealth can be obtained through evil means
    Proverbs 11:18 “The wicked earns deceptive wages, but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.”
    Proverbs 15:6 “In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but trouble befalls the income of the wicked.”
    Proverbs 21:6 “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.”
  • Proverbs warns about greed.

Proverbs 1:19 “the greedy for unjust gain – their life is taking away”
Proverbs 11:28 “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.”

Proverbs 13:23 “The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice.”

Proverbs 15:27 “Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household, but he who hates bribes will live.”

Proverbs 22:16 “Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.”

Proverbs 22:22-23 “Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate, for the Lord will plead their cause and rob of life those who rob them.”

Proverbs 30:8-9 “give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”

 

Wealth is acquired through work ethic, wise planning and divine providence.

As we look around the world’s wealth distribution, it doesn’t make sense that ~80% of the world lives in poverty while the other ~20% are the world’s wealthiest. For certain, America is a blessed nation whereas much the rest of the world lives on roughly $2/day. It humbly seems that God has a sovereign purpose for the wealthy and poor. The greater question from God’s perspective is are we the righteous wealthy or poor or are we the wicked wealthy or poor; character and faith in Christ is greater than material wealth or poverty.

  • Providence

Proverbs 10:22 “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.”

Proverbs 22:2 “The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all.”

Matthew 26:11 “For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me [Jesus].”

  • Work Ethic

Proverbs 6:6-8 “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways and be wise. Without having any chief officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”

Proverbs 10:4-5 “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.”

Proverbs 12:11 “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.”

Proverbs 13:4 “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”

Proverbs 14:23 “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.”

Proverbs 31:16, 18 “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard… She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.”

  • Wise Planning

Avoid Get-Rich-Quick Schemes:
Proverbs 13:11 “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.”
Proverbs 20:21 “An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end.”

Avoid Foolish Lending:
Proverbs 11:15 “Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm, but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure.”

Avoid Foolish Debt:
Proverbs 17:18 “One who lacks sense gives a pledge and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.”

Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

Proverbs 22:26-27 “Be not one of those who gives pledges, who put up security for debts. If you have nothing with which to pay, why should your bed be taken from under you?”

Proverbs 27:13 “Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger, and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for an adulteress.”

  • Not all debt is wrong
    In OT, God permits lending among Israelites “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a money lender; charge him no interest” (Exod. 22:25). In NT, Jesus encouraged lending and said, “love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back” (Luke 6:35). So if God permits lending, then naturally God permits borrowing. Lending can be a gracious act to show mercy, and likewise borrowing can be a gracious opportunity from God (cf. Ps 37:26).

Ultimately, accumulating debt is generally an unwise financial move. Debt should be a cautious means to an end. If the end has unbiblical motivation it often turns into slavery and paralyzes flexibility in one’s finances. There is no explicit prohibition of debt in the Bible though only wise caution. One wise counsel is to distinguish between depreciating and appreciating assets – the latter perhaps a good investment with debt.

  • Debt Questions: What’s motivation (1Cor 10:31)? Can I afford (Romans 13:7-8)?

Budget:
Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”

Proverbs 22:3 – “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

Contentment: Avg credit card debt is $7k; consumer debt $3k; student loan debt is $32k; indebted household $17K[2]

Proverbs 21:17 “Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”

Save: Saving money is smart to give for strategic purposes, surprises and provide security (though ultimate security is in God). Further, there is a basic multiplication principle that it takes money to make money. Through compound interest accumulating over time and investing wisely, you can actually give more away over a lifetime than you could by giving instantly to every needy cause. Thus, investment and building wealth can be wise as long as it is not hoarding or lacking the trust that God will provide and give security in the future.

Proverbs 21:20 “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.”

Generational Stewardship

Proverbs 13:22 “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.”

Proverbs 19:14 “House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”

 

 

 

How much is enough to have or spend?

  • Multiple Biblical characters had wealth: Abraham, Job at beginning & end, David as King, Solomon, Macedonian Church, Paul at times, and others.
  • Nehemiah 8:10 Ezra and Nehemiah encourage the people to celebrate God in a lavish manner.
  • John 2:1-12 Jesus makes good wine, not cheap, watered down wine.
  • John 12:1-8 Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive (year’s wages) perfume and Jesus says “the poor you always have with you…”
  • “When God provides more money, we often think, This is a blessing. Well, yes, but it would be just as scriptural to think, This is a test… God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.”[3]
  • The point of luxury is understanding how to leverage money, power and position for influence and advancement of God’s kingdom, not our own where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal (Matt 6:19-21).

Wealth is enjoyed most when used for eternal significance rather than earthly satisfaction.

The central theme of Proverbs is to be in right relationship with God; fear the Lord. When one realizes God is the Master, Owner, and Provider for all our resources then that requires us to have a servant and stewardship perspective. It means we are not owners and should seek to spend, share, and invest our money in the purposes of God.

Randy Alcorn “It is impossible to become a fully developed follower of Jesus without also becoming a fully developed steward of your resources.”

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Mark 8:36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
Luke 12:15 “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

à We must ask, what does our spending/saving/giving say about my character and my faith?

Tithing/Offering to God through local church

Proverbs 3:9-10 “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.”
Does the church want my money? Stop and think about this mentality. When you go to the grocery store, do you say, this store just wants my money? When you go buy a new car, do you say, General Motors just wants my money? When you go to the mall, do you say, the mall just wants my money? You don’t say that about the grocer. You don’t say that about the dealership. You don’t say that about the mall. Why? Because that’s not the issue. The issue is that you need food and the grocery store has food. The value you place on the food you need makes it legitimate for you to pay for the food you receive. You need a car so it makes sense to buy a vehicle to get you where you need to go. You need clothes, so you go to the mall in order to find what you need. In other words, it’s not that these places just want your money, but they are indeed providing something you absolutely need.

We need God. We need spiritual help. We need spiritual light. We need training for our children. We need to know God’s way. If we can go to the grocery store for physical food, then we ought to be willing to come to the house of God for spiritual food without whining about it. The question is not, does the church want my money. The question is, does the church serve good food.

How much should we give?

  • The tithing question.
    • A tithe means “tenth”, where God’s people gave 10% of their firstfruits to God and to support the role of the Levites (priestly tribe; Numbers 18:21-29; 27:30).
    • A tithe and offering of crops, herds and flocks was given (Leviticus 27:30-32; Deut 12:4-18; 14:22-23).
    • In addition, there were other tithes required of God’s people to support religious festivals for worship and community life (Deuteronomy 12:10-11, 17-18; 14:22-27); offerings of 3.3% to help the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29) along with allowing for the poor and aliens to crop glean (Leviticus 19:9-10); and even other occasional offerings (Nehemiah 10:32-33). In sum, the total “mandatory” OT tithe/offerings resulted in well over 23%.
    • In the NT, Jesus affirms the tithe (Matt 23:23); but even more the emphasis is on grace-giving. In other words 10% is the more likely a starting point for believers in grace; giving is to be compelled by God, and compassionate for others not compulsory (Acts 2:45; 2Cor 8:7-9, 9:6-9; Philippians 4:14-20).
    • The NT further shows giving should be systematic/regularly (1Cor 16:1-2); proportional (1Cor 16:2); sacrificial (Widow’s Offering in Luke 21:1-4; 2Cor 8:1-6,10-12); willing & generous (2Cor 9:6-9; Galatians 6:9-10; Philippians 4:14-20); and visionary for advancing God’s kingdom (Matt 13:44-46, 25:29; Luke 16:10-13; 2Cor 8:7, 9:6-15)
    • The average regular church-goer gives 6% of their income of gross income; about 20% of all Christians account for 86% of all giving.[4]
    • Tithing 10% seems to be like training wheels for giving generously to God’s kingdom efforts.
      When it comes to tithing there is an initial pause, thought and question – Can I really afford to do this? Honestly, Scripture teaches the contrasting question, Can I afford not to do this? God challenges us to trust that He is a great Provider. Our faith is strengthened when we act on His promises; tithing is ultimately an issue of faith.
      Malachi 3:8-12 “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.”
  • Should I tithe on net or gross? The real question is, Which does God own, or Which amount do you want God to bless in your finances? The point is we give to God our firstfruits and our best, not leftovers.
  • Should a tithe go to the church or other ministries? In the OT the Israelites brought their tithes and offerings to the tabernacle where God’s presence existed (Deut 12:5-7, 12, 17-18; Ex 33:7-11) and later to the temple storehouse (Nehemiah 10:38; 13:12; Malachi 3:10). The early Christians in the NT brought their tithes and offerings to the church (Acts 4:34-35; 1Cor 16:1-3). Where the OT temple was a storehouse, the NT local church became a clearing-house, a conduit of blessing gifts to help the needy and reach the lost.
    If you already have certain commitments to various ministries, you should likely fulfill them through the year and look to follow this pattern as possible.
  • Should I give weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually? It does not necessarily matter. The church does finances like an individual does, so it is helpful to know regular income of funds for spending in ministry. Essentially, how often you receive income is a good place to say how often you give tithes.
  • Should pastors tithe? If the pastors and staff of a church do not tithe then the church should find new ones that do!

 

 

 

Generosity to Others

Proverbs 3:27 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”

Proverbs 11:24 -26 “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”
Proverbs 14:21, 31 “blessed is he who is generous to the poor… whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”

Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”

Proverbs 22:9 “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.”

Proverbs 28:27 “Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.”

Proverbs 31:20 “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”

Jesus’ radical generosity models and motivates our giving.
When it comes to giving we must look to the way God gives. He gave of Himself, His one and only Son (John 3:16). Jesus did not merely give a tithe or portion His life but all of it.

2 Corinthians 8:9 “for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

As we consider God’s giving methods, we not only have an example but a desire to show our appreciation. Giving becomes fun and fulfilling, agreeing with Jesus that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Hoarding

Proverbs 11:26 The people curse him who holds back [hoards] grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.”

Jesus told a parable about a man who received a large crop and decided to build bigger barns and store up the grain so he could take life easy (Luke 12:13-21).  But what happened?  God said, “You fool!  This very night your life will be demanded from you.  Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”  Jesus goes onto say, “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Hoarding is sinful & selfish accumulation without consideration of God. God calls for His people to use wealth generously for His kingdom causes and the good of others.

– Great example is Joseph in book of Genesis.

APPLY/THINK

  • FPU with Dave Ramsey: Personally, I think Dave is great, even more he’s got a great name J. Honestly, his teaching on financial peace is biblically sound, wise and challenging. However, Dave’s motto: “Live like no one else, so that later you can live like no one else” seems to miss the point of a gospel-centered perspective. When the gospel informs and fuels finances then the categories of saving, spending and giving become more radical than simply saving until you can afford an increased lifestyle in the future. I am not saying Dave Ramsey isn’t a Christian, or doesn’t understand the gospel, or doesn’t give like he should…etc.! I am saying that a gospel-centered life does not seek satisfaction in the abundance of wealth or possessions now or later; therefore a better motto could be “Live contently, Give Christ-compellingly”.
  • FPU PANEL

– What was your experience with FPU?

– What is most challenging about viewing money from God’s perspective? 

– What brief recommendations do you have for others to consider to be a good steward of their finances? 

[1] Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle. pp.14-15, 18.

[2] http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-card-data/average-credit-card-debt-household/

[3] Alcorn, p.75.

[4] Statistics compiled in Driscoll, Doctrine, pp.396-397. Even more interesting are proposed ministry and social actions that could be achieved if committed Christians gave only 10% of income accounting for an extra $46 billion per year of resources on p.398.

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