This Sunday, August 5th, I’m preaching on possessions, wealth, and resources in a sermon entitled, “Resourced for Shalom” which is part of our summer series in Proverbs. In his sick-nasty-fresh and always helpful book, How to Read Proverbs, Tremper Longman outlines seven different lessons about wealth and poverty from the book of Proverbs. (Yes, I said “sick-nasty-fresh” and Tremper Longman in the same sentence!) Here it is. Hope it serves you!
1) God blesses the righteous with wealth.
Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left.
The blessing of the LORD makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow to it.
2) Foolish behavior leads to poverty.
Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 11 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.
3) The wealth of fools will not last.
Evil people get rich for the moment, but the reward of the godly will last.
Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
4) Poverty can be the result of injustice and oppression.
Longman writes, “It is wrong to suggest, as some do, that the book of Proverbs sees poverty as only and always resulting from laziness-or even from folly, generally understood. As we have seen, the proverbial form is never that sweeping or absolute; holding that it is can distort the book's overall message. Yes, laziness and other wrong-headed behaviors often result in poverty or something close to it. But not always…When observing someone who is stuck in poverty, the wise person will study the situation before coming to any conclusions about causes or solutions. To do otherwise is to fall into the trap of Job’s friends.” In other words, don’t assume that poverty is always the result of lazy or foolish behavior.
An unplowed field produces food for the poor, but injustice sweeps it away.
Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.
5) Those with money must be generous.
The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.
If a king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will be established forever.
Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—when you already have it with you.
6) Wisdom is better than wealth.
Tremper writes, “Proverbs leaves us in no doubt that wealth is better than poverty, but is it the ultimate good? Absolutely not.”
Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil. Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.
How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse.
7) Wealth has limited value.
Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.
The rich can pay a ransom for their lives, but the poor won’t even get threatened.
The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many “friends”.
Two things I ask of you, LORD; do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. 9 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.