At the end of Part 1, I provided the main point I uncovered as I studied what the book of Proverbs had to say, overall, about wealth, which was: A wealth of wisdom makes one wise towards wealth. To unpack this theme, I want to answer three questions in the next three parts.
In this part, I will answer the following question: How we view money.
Throughout the book of Proverbs there are at least 7 views of money and wealth that surface.
- Money is Power
“The rich rule over the poor….” (Proverbs 22:7, NIV)
Senator Mark Hanna over a century ago stated, “There are two things that are important in politics, the first is money, and I can’t remember what the second one is.” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/01/opinion/sunday/trump-tape-fundraiser.html
Michelle Obama, when talking to an audience back in 2014 said if you want to have influence in the American political process, “Write a big, fat check… Write the biggest, fattest check that you can possibly write.” https://www.cnn.com/2015/02/16/opinion/schmitt-politics-money/index.html
What were the Senator and the First Lady saying? They basically were espousing that if you have money and are willing to use it, you can have power and influence in the American political system.
In addition, if you watch or follow the news, there are two big conversations happening right now surrounding big tech companies and censorship and big Pharma companies and the race for a vaccine. In both cases, money seems to dominate the conversation.
Let me be quick to say, there’s nothing inherently wrong with having money nor having power. It’s how you use both money and power. But, I will also be quick to say that sinful people tend to abuse both money and power. It’s part of the curse of the fall.
2. Money is Protection
“The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor.” (Proverbs 10:15, NIV)
Many see their money as some sort of fortified castle that provides them security and protection. For many, the more money they have, the more secure they feel. Think about it this way, if someone has good health insurance, they don’t necessarily fear getting sick—in a financial sense. Sure, they may fear the kind of sickness, but not paying the medical bills.
People see money the same way—it’s their safety net.
3. Money is Popularity
“Wealth makes many ‘friends’; poverty drives them all away.” (Proverbs 19:4, NLT)
“The poor is dislike even by his neighbor, but the rich has many friends.” (Proverbs 14:20, ESV)
Solomon is saying that rich people tend to have a crowd around them. Everyone wants to hang out with the rich people.
This point reminds me of Willie Nelson’s song, “If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time.” Or it reminds me of the movie, Richie Rich, that I watched growing up.
The rich people get all the attention, poor people get all the abandonment.
4. Money is Privilege
“A person’s riches may ransom their life, but the poor cannot respond to threatening rebukes.” (Proverbs 13:8, NIV)
The book by, turned into a movie about, Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy, highlights the principle. It also highlights other principals that you can find throughout Proverbs. But it definitely shows how poor people cannot respond to threatening rebukes. They don’t have the money, nor the privilege to hire who they need to protect themselves.
However, rich people—because they have money—have privilege. Privilege can come in a variety of ways. Privilege may mean one can hire the right lawyers, consult the right specialists, afford quality education, etc. Thus people view money as privilege. The more money they have the more privilege they have.
5. Money is Promotion
“Some people pretend to be rich but really have nothing.” (Proverbs 13:7, NCV)
Remember the 70s TV show, “The Jeffersons”? What was the theme song? Moving on up, to the Eastside… we finally got a piece of the pie.
Money promotes ones status and lifestyle. Therefore, the more money someone has the more they can elevate their lifestyle and status. It may be a car, house, neighborhood, clothes, or kinds of vacations.
6. Money is Proud
“The rich think they know it all, but the poor can see right through them.” (Proverbs 28:11, MSG)
Elite people seem to think they are experts on everything.
Katie Warren, writing for Business Insider, penned, “Some may have long suspected it, but now science has confirmed it: Rich people really do believe they’re better than everybody else.”
The Telegraph ran an article that stated the following,
“However, we do seem to have become interested in what proper celebrities have to say – and this is far more serious. In fact, to my mind, one of the most horrific developments of the 21st century has been the widespread acceptance of the notion that being good at acting/ sports/ pop music seems to mean the rest of us should listen to your opinions on Syria, Hugo Chavez or the plight of the Amazonian tribes. Or just child rearing, diet, or lifestyle. Or, for that matter, anything that isn’t whatever it is the celebrity in question is famous for being good at doing.”
Just because someone is rich doesn’t make them an expert on everything. But for some reason in our culture many of the rich and wealthy believe they have the right or platform to weigh in on anything any topic they want.
And let me just be quick to also say, the Christian subculture is bad about this.
If someone famous becomes a Christian, or is a Christian, people want them to be a poster-child for Christianity. (Kanye is a perfect example of this). It’s like we want them to give validity to Christianity. [On a side note: Christianity doesn’t need any person to validate it, Jesus already validated himself when he died and rose again!]
In short, money puffs up and make people proud.
According to these six principles of how people viewed money in Solomon’s day, we can summarize that people see money as what money can do for them. For instance, money can give them power, protection, privilege, popularity, and promotion. It can also give them a platform for them to project their pride—how they know-it-all.
When money is ultimately viewed as the means to a self-centered end, it can:
- Create division between halves and have nots; The rich and the poor
- Creates unhealthy competition
- Create comparison traps and “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality
- Give false security
- Create a dissatisfied society
And let us not be naïve to believe these things only exist in one kind of economy and not the other. For any economy built by sinful broken people will have sinful and broken manifestations.
Here’s something that is interesting. According to an article published by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley, the author noted 7 things about the psychology of money:
- More money, less empathy
- Wealth can cloud moral judgment
- Wealth has been linked with addiction
- Wealthy children may be more troubled
- Wealth (or the Wealthy) tend to be perceived as “evil”
- Money can’t buy happiness (or love)
7. Money is NOT the PRIORITY
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7, NIV)
“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better return than gold.” (Proverbs 3:13–15, NIV)
“Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath. . . . Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive….” (Proverbs 11:4, 28, NIV)
“Those who fear the Lord are secure; he will be a refuge for their children.” (Proverbs 14:26, NLT)
“Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil. A bowl of vegetables with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate.” (Proverbs 15:16, 17, NLT)
“In the blink of an eye wealth disappears….” (Proverbs 23:5, NLT)
Words of Agur…“… 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.” (Proverbs 30:8–9, NIV)
According to Proverbs, God’s economy is not built upon money—and the Power, Protection, Popularity, Privilege, Promotion, and Proudness it generates—rather, God’s economy is founded and built upon his glory and the faithfulness of his people living for that glory.
That’s why in God’s economy, money is not the POINT nor the PRIORITY, but a product to be used for His glory and others’ good.
Furthermore, Solomon writes, “The rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is Maker of them all.” (Proverbs 22:2, NIV)
Did you notice how God is the great equalizer between the rich and the poor? The reality is, poverty is an affect of the fall. Throughout Scripture God is always commanding his people to care for the poor. In God’s economy there are no poor.
So, here’s a question for you to wrestle with: How do you view money?
In Part 3, we will answer the second question.