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It is nice to go to the grocery store and be able to pay for food.
It is annoying when you set your hopes on something and the money isn’t there.
It is a tremendous challenge when you have lots of money because people are jealous and expect you to donate to everything.
We need money, but a lot of wisdom is required to handle it well.
The physical relationship between husband and wife is a great blessing, but this powerful drive can also make all kinds of problems for us.
Sex is good, but a lot of wisdom is needed to handle it well.
Tim Taylor always talked about “more power.”
All of us have power which we can use to bring about good things.
But each week we also hear stories of the abuse of power - whether it is the violence of a street gang, a government official giving contracts to friends or a husband beating his wife or children.
A lot of wisdom is required for us to use our power well.
A number of years ago, Richard Foster wrote a book with the title, “The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex and Power.”
He recognized the problem we have with these three areas.
Jack Popjes who works for Wycliffe Bible Translators writes, “Money, Sex and Power have always been the major problem areas for Christians.
The monks in the Middle Ages took vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience to handle these issues.”
How do we handle them today?
Proverbs give wisdom for all of life including these three key areas.
Last week when we began to look at Proverbs as a book of wisdom, we learned that wisdom is living well in the world God has created.
What wisdom does Proverbs offer in regards to the areas of money, sex and power?
How can we live well in these major areas of concern.
I wonder if there is anyone here who has not fantasized about what they would do if they won or inherited a large amount of money?
If you have little money, life is hard.
If you have a lot of money, it is a challenge to manage it.
Money provides a significant area of struggle in our lives.
What wisdom does Proverbs give us?
As you will recall, last week, we noted that Proverbs does not give us a simple answer.
It invites us to interact with different ideas.
I invite you to read Proverbs and take note of those which speak about money, wealth and poverty.
Let me share with you some perspectives that I have found as I have studied Proverbs.
!! A. Poverty Is No Fun
For the first year and a half of our marriage, Carla and I were both in school.
During the summer, we had jobs, but they just paid for tuition, rent and food.
When we went grocery shopping, we had to be very careful and there certainly was no extra.
It wasn’t fun.
Proverbs 10:15 recognizes this when it says, “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor.”
In other words, God’s Word recognizes that poverty is no fun.
It is even worse than this.
When we are poor, not only is it difficult to live, but often we are looked down upon.
Proverbs 14:20 says, “The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends.”
Proverbs 22:7 deepens this lousy situation when it says, “The rich rule over the poor...”
The young people would say, “poverty sucks” and they would be right.
All of our life experience suggests that it is no fun to be poor.
It is uncomfortable from many angles.
Because that is true, we determine that we don’t want that and we determine to do whatever we can about it.
We seek to get as much money as possible in order to be as wealthy as we can be.
We have discovered that it is easier that way.
Money motivates us in a powerful way.
!! B. God’s Reality
Wisdom affirms this reality, but is it the only reality?
Wisdom has other perspectives as well.
!!! 1. Don’t Trust in Riches
When we determine that wealth is better than poverty, we subject our selves to many temptations.
Proverbs warns about all the risks and pitfalls of wanting to get rich at all cost.
Fundamentally, God is against the temptations we get into if the desire for wealth gets the better of us.
Proverbs 11:1 says, “The LORD abhors dishonest scales…” Since we are living in God’s world, Proverbs indicates that the consequences of money which we get quickly, or in a wrong way, will not last.
“ Proverbs 13:11 says, “Dishonest money dwindles away…” Proverbs 20:17 indicates “Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel.”
Further in Proverbs 20:21 we also learn that “An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end.”
And in 21:6 that “A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.”
Part of the problem is that when we want to get, our hearts become so self focused that greed gets the better of us and that is not a pretty picture.
Proverbs warns in 15:27, “A greedy man brings trouble to his family…” The stinginess that is associated with greed is ugly.
Proverbs 23:6-8 is very colorful in its description when it says, “Do not eat the food of a stingy man, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost.
“Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments.”
Because we don’t want poverty, sometimes our whole life becomes a pursuit of wealth.
When that becomes an all consuming goal, life is not much better.
Proverbs 23:4 warns, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.”
Why does Proverbs warn against making it our all consuming passion?
Well, Proverbs 23:5 reminds us that it is a never ending pursuit because as it says, “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”
Furthermore, if you do succeed in keeping wealth, you have to maintain it.
Proverbs 13:8 says, “A man’s riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears no threat.”
I understand that Proverb to mean that if we have a lot of things, we will have to protect them.
Poor people do not need a security system in their house whereas people with many things have to buy locks and insurance and do all kinds of things to protect them.
Underlying all of these problems of the pursuit of and possession of wealth is the danger that we begin to trust in what we have.
Proverbs 11:28 says, “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”
Ultimately, of course, as someone has said, “there are no U-Hauls behind hearses.”
Proverbs 11:4 says, “Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”
So although being poor is no fun at all, giving our life to the pursuit of things brings its own set of problems.
!! C. Living In God’s World
So the question we then need to ask as we consider all these different perspectives is, “how do we live well in regards to money?”
The writer of the proverbs got tired of the conundrum and prayed in Proverbs 30:8,9, “…give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.
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.”
His perspective is God oriented and so must ours be if we want to walk in wisdom.
!!! 1. Things Better Than Wealth
One helpful perspective is to remember that there are values that are better than possessions.
Wisdom, the fear of the Lord, love, righteousness, peace, truth, being blameless are all better than money and its pursuit.
In fact, some of these things suggest that they are so much better than wealth that if you have them and are poor that is even better.
For example, Proverbs 17:1 says, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.”
!!! 2. Hard work brings wealth
Although we should not “wear ourselves out to get rich” many Proverbs encourage us to work hard.
Even though we may be tempted to gain riches through means such as lotteries or dishonesty, Proverbs suggests that we ought to be diligent and faithful in our work.
Proverbs like 13:4 encourages this perspective when it says, “The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”
In this community we have a good work ethic and we should maintain that.
It is a good thing to be hard workers.
However, we should not work to the point of wearing ourselves out or for the purpose of keeping up with the Joneses.
Faithful diligent work will provide us with what we need like nothing else and there will be satisfaction in the work itself.
So diligent work that is enjoyed for its own sake will provide a satisfaction that the pursuit of wealth for its own sake never will.
!!! 3. Wrong to oppress the poor.
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