#GrowWise. The Truth About Money

January 30, 2015

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Proverbs 30:7-9  (read the whole chapter)

O God, I beg two favors from you;
    let me have them before I die.
First, help me never to tell a lie.
    Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
    Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
    And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.



In Scripture, if people are going to create some drama around asking God for something big, they usually bring it down to one thing. Rarely does anyone say, “I need two favors.” That’s what we get today in Proverbs 30.

Imagine saying to God. “O.K., Jesus, I need to ask you for two favors.” What would they be? If you told me I could ask the Lord for two favors, my first impulse would likely be to ask for a long life and a lot of money. (Just keeping it real!) It wouldn’t be wise. In summary, the wisdom writer brings it down to two things: Integrity and contentment.

First, help me never to tell a lie.
    Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!

Wisdom says, “Make me a truth teller in all things, and when it comes to money, I don’t want to be poor and I don’t need to be rich.”

When I think about it, these are probably the most important “take-aways” from my growing up years. My mom and dad burned four words into me and my two sisters lives, “ALWAYS. . . .TELL. . . . THE. . . . TRUTH.” In other words, Never, ever, ever, ever, lie. The other thing I learned was more from example than something they said. It came from the way they handled money. On the one hand, I was sure we weren’t poor, but on the other hand I knew we weren’t rich. As I reflect on it, here’s what I observed:

1. They never made money an issue. 2. There was never talk about what things cost or what other people had and what we couldn’t afford. 3. At the same time, we lived a comfortable but modest lifestyle. 4. All the while my parents were exceedingly generous. Whether it was always having ample after school snacks for every kid in the neighborhood or making interest free “loans” to people in need (and forgiving the debt when they couldn’t pay it back). Come to think of it, I grew up around a lot of these kinds of people in my hometown.

Here’s the interesting thing about today’s text. Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. The only people who can have any concept of how much “just enough to satisfy my needs” is, are people of profound contentment. They are people who trust God. Here’s the “wise” kicker:

For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
    And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.

Bottom line: When the holy and fearful love of God is our center of gravity we will think a lot less about money. We will grow in the gift of contentment. The corollary is also true. When the love of money is the center of gravity we will think a lot less about God. We will shrink in the grip of greed.

(That’s why Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give the proceeds to the poor and follow him. Money was his center of gravity so much so that he didn’t have money. His money had him. That’s why Jesus said things like, “What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose their soul.” Money is never a bad thing, but it is often a very dangerous thing. And truth be told– most of the lying in the world can be traced back to concerns around money, but I’m not going to say anything about those blasted tax returns. ;0)

I’ll see you tomorrow in Proverbs 31.


P.S. Some are asking where we are headed in February. Here’s the plan. We are going to climb one of the great mountains of the Bible together. In the Gospels, following Jesus birth, we follow and fix our eyes on Jesus as he preaches, teaches and heals. There are a series of mysterious manifestations of his goodness and glory and they culminate on the top of a Mountain. It has come to be called the “Mount of Transfiguration.” I call it “Transfiguration Mountain.” After this comes the great descent all the way down to the Cross. For the first seventeen days of February, Jesus being our guide, we are gong to make our way up “Transfiguration Mountain.” February 18 is Ash Wednesday which opens the door to our Lenten journey to the Cross. More on that to come. For now, get your hiking boots ready. And it would honor our work if you would consider inviting a friend to join us.

J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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