I’m posting a series of articles from a sermon of mine on money and wealth through the book of Proverbs.

So far we I have covered the main theme that I uncovered was: a wealth of wisdom makes on wise towards wealth. Also, we have answered the first question regarding being wise towards wealth, which was “How one views money?”

In Part 3, I want to answer the second question which is, “How one generates money?”

In today’s society people like to talk about the 7 streams of income. 

  • Earned income
  • Profit income
  • Interest income
  • Dividend income
  • Rental income
  • Capital Gains
  • Royalty income 

However, as I read through the book of Proverbs, I found a different list of 7 streams (a couple of which are the same) by which people generate money. Here they are:

  • Gift—having someone give you money (like your parents or someone who is generous)
  • Paycheck—Earned money
  • Loan—Borrowing money
  • Gamble
  • Invest
  • Steal—Lie, cheat, steal, and exploit to get more money
  • Bribe—give or promise money (or some form of compensation) to someone in order to control their behavior 

Taking those 7 streams of generating money found in Proverbs, I crafted the following 7 principles: 

  1. Hungering for more money feeds the money monster

“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.” (Proverbs 23:4, NLT)

In the context of adultery, the woman says to the simple man, “…for my husband is not home. He’s away on a long trip. He has taken a wallet full of money with him and won’t return until later this month.” (Proverbs 7:19–20)

We don’t know what he is doing with the money; but undoubtfully, they are well off. By the context, this may have been a regular occurrence. And so it seems from the context that she is an upset, neglected housewife looking for a little side fun while her husband if off with a sack full of money.

The hunger for more money to do more things, have more stuff, and have more privileges sometimes cost people more than they were willing to pay.

The money monster will eat your life. It will devour your time, health, marriage, and even your relationship with your children. Remember the song by Harry Chapin, Cats in the Cradle?

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
“When you coming home, son?” “I don’t know when”
But we’ll get together then, dad
You know we’ll have a good time then

I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, I’d like to see you if you don’t mind
He said, I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

The reality is, if you feed the money monster it will turn into your money master. And Jesus tells us you can’t serve God and Money—you will either love the one and hate the other?

2. Greedy is always needy 

“Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life.” (Proverbs 1:19, NLT) 

The leech has two daughters. Give! Give!” (Proverbs 30:15, NIV)

“The greedy bring ruin to their households….” (Proverbs 15:27, NIV)

According to Proverbs, greedy people are never satisfied. They are constantly dissatisfied, and a dissatisfied life sucks the life out of you. 

If you are greedy, there will never be a time where you aren’t needy.

“Greed causes fighting….” (Proverbs 28:25, NLT)

The authors (Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler) of, “Greed and grievance in Civil War,” published by Oxford University Press, investigated the causes of civil wars from 1960–1999.

Here’s what they conclude, “Opportunity as an explanation of conflict risk is consistent with the economic interpretation of rebellion as greed-motivated.” In other words, of the global civil wars that have occurred from 1960–1999, they found that the motivation of the rebels was induced by economic incentives (aka…greed).

Some have pushed back on their research. However, here’s what we do know. Greedy is needy. If people aren’t satisfied, they will seek to find that which they think will satisfy. And many go to money as they see it as power, prestige, privilege, popularity, protection. And if they see themselves as disadvantaged, with no hope in sight to gain some kind of advantage, they have a tendency to rebel—causing conflict and chaos.

Here’s a simple question for us, “How many family feuds are over money?

3. Quick money is dead money

“Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears….” (Proverbs 13:11, NLT)

“The one who stays on the job has food on the table; the witless chase whims and fancies.” (Proverbs 12:11, The MSG)

“An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end.” (Proverbs 20:21, NIV) think of the prodigal son Luke 15. 

“…hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5, NLT)

“The trustworthy person will get a rich reward, but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble.” (Proverbs 28:20, NLT) 

Many of us think of multi-level marketing, gambling, selling a kidney, grooming your child for a pro sport as those “get-rich-quick schemes.” But such quick money isn’t always a blessing.

I came across an article titled, “Curse of the Lottery: Tragic Stories of Big Jackpot Winners,” where the author stated, “Nearly 70% of lottery winners end up broke within seven years. Even worse, several winners have died tragically or witnessed those close to them suffer.”

Also, I found the following information intriguing to say the least:

  • 60% of NBA players go broke within 5 years of departing the league.
  • 78% of former NFL players experience financial distress two years after retirement.  

Here’s the principle: If you don’t know how to handle a little money, you won’t know how to handle a lot of money. So, it’s no need in you getting all excited on your birthday and running out to Hollywood casino hoping that you hit it big.

For those wanting to get rich quick, Puff Daddy actually is a prophet given the fact one of his songs is titled, “Mo Money, Mo Problems.” More money is not the solution to your problems. It may be the solution to your wants… not your needs. In fact, for many, if they did come into more money, it probably would cause the same problems—if not more. 

That’s why quick money is dead money!

4. Borrowing money to appear rich leads to deeper poverty

“…the borrower is slave to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7, NIV)

Depending on the source and the time of the source, you will find alarming stats on the average debt of Americans.

I think we all realize by now we live in a finance-frenzy society. We can:

  • Finance your house
  • Finance your car
  • Finance your school
  • Finance your vacation
  • Finance your phone
  • Finance your Furniture
  • Finance your Bed
  • Finance your TV
  • Finance your Pet
  • Finance your Amazon purchase 

The next thing you know, you’ve got bills coming in from Bank of America, Volkswagen, Wheaton College, Disney, Ashley Furniture, Mattress Firm, Walmart, Puppies, and Amazon. Now why do Americans do this? Well, I can’t speak for every American, but I bet it has something to do with what Solomon was getting at in Proverbs 13:7:

One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

What happens when you add these bills on top of the recurring bills you get every month—like water, power, food, and insurance? You find yourself barely able to tread the financial waters. In short, you become enslaved to both the lender and the money. 

5. Methods matter when making money

The wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.” (Proverbs 11:18, NIV).

There’s nothing intrinsically or inherently wrong with money, riches, or wealth. BUT…methods do matter in how you make money and how you steward them matters which we will see.

The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him. (Proverbs 11:1, NIV)

“The Lord demands accurate scales and balances; he sets the standards for fairness.” (Proverbs 16:11, NLT) Proverbs 20:10, 23 also address accurate scales and weights.

Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value….” (Proverbs 10:2, NIV)

“Wealth created by a lying tongue is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap.” (Proverbs 21:6, NLT)

“One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.” (Proverbs 22:16, NIV)

“Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor, amasses it for another who will be kind to the poor.” (Proverbs 28:8, NLT)

When we think of dishonest professions, most Americans think of the following:

  • (1) Car salesmen
  • (2) Members of Congress
  • (3) Senators
  • (4) Insurance salespeople 
  • (5) Advertising professions 

Nobody likes a dishonest person who makes money off of being dishonest. Now, if you are someone who is in one of these professions, please know this isn’t meant to call you out. It is only meant to show you what other Americans think about that profession. In fact clergy came in at #13 on the list.

God cares about how we make money. God wants us to make money in a God-honoring and honest manner.

Here’s another interesting Proverbs when it comes to how one makes money:

“Anyone who robs father and mother and says, ‘So, what’s wrong with that?’ is worse than a pirate.” (Proverbs 28:24, The MSG)

Let me just give a word to parents and children—particularly late elementary, middle school, and high school. Children should be required to do some form of work around the house to get spending money. Proverbs calls children who take/plunder money from their parents as pirates.

Let me be quick to say that many parents are complicit with their children being pirates. Many “wealthy” parents just give their kids whatever they want. Giving your children money—to do whatever they want, to buy whatever they want—without some form of service or chore to contribute to the well-being of the house, grooms children to feel entitled to do very little but be compensated very much. 

In short: Methods do matter when making money. 

6. What you put into work will be what you get out of work

“Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich. (Proverbs 10:4, NLT)

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in the summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:6–11, NIV)

A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace.” (Proverbs 10:5, NLT)

Those who work their land will have abundant food….” (Proverbs 12:11, NIV).

Proverbs 28:19 “Those who work their land will have abundant food….”

“Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave. . . . Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find.” (Proverbs 12:24, 27, NLT)

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23, NIV)

“The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (Proverbs 15:19, NIV).  

“A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things.” (Proverbs 18:9, NLT)

Be sure to know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations. When the hay is removed and new growth appears and the grass from the hills is gathered in, the lambs will provide you with clothing, and the goats with the price of a field.” (Proverbs 27:23–26, NIV)

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit….” (Proverbs 21:5) 

Proverbs 31, The Noble Woman: 

  • Works with eager hands (v13)
  • Gets up while it is still night (v15)
  • Sets about her work vigorously (v17)
  • Does not eat the bread of idleness (v27)

Let me ask you a question: How do you work? Do you work hard? Diligent? Or do you work like a sluggard? A lazy-bones?

It does seem, according to some, that Americans are slacking when it comes to what they put into their work. 

Umair Haque, writing in a Harvard Business Review article, notes, 

Here’s my hypothesis: Today, America excels at mediocrity. [America has] perfected the art of imagining, designing, mega-financing, and mass-producing the tedious, humdrum, banal, middle of the road, bland, trivial, forgettable, the less than exhilarating—whose side effects may include unemployment, stagnation, insecurity, distrust, meaninglessness, depression, and dumbification.

Another author, Jared Dillion, noted, “I think we’ve lost track of the relationship between work and money. It’s a simple relationship: If you work, you get money. But somehow, we’ve come to believe that you can work less and earn the same amount of money.” 

When it comes to what Proverbs teaches about work, in addition to the rest of the Bible—not to mention when it comes to how God worked and works—we as believers should work with:

  • Diligence            (keep working even if you experience thorns and thistles)
  • Energy               (as opposed to sloth or mediocrity)
  • Perspective        (as if we are working for the Lord)
  • Character           (don’t cut corners, work with integrity)
  • Excellence         (do quality work)
  • Dignity                (regardless of the kind of job)
  • Humility              (remember to think less of yourself and more of others)
  • Boundaries         (Sabbath)
  • Gratitude            (thanking God for giving you what you need)
  • Purpose             (for the glory of God by bringing flourishing to others and the world)

[A word to the unemployed: My heart goes out to you. Losing your job, while at the same time looking for a job can seem like a gut punch—especially in the middle of a pandemic and economic crisis. In a time where it’s easy to fall into discouragement and depression and not feel like doing anything, You’ll need to employee yourself daily and go to work finding a job.] 

What you put into work will be what you get out of work. 

7. Money is made in the short-term; wealth is made in long-term

“… but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.” (Proverbs 13:11, NIV)

If you really want to be wealthy, view it as a marathon and not a sprint. What you do with money in the short-term will be a deciding fact to what your money will turn into in the long-term.

In closing, this principles are in regards to how you generate money. Is the way you generate money wise? or Wicked?

In the final part of this series we will answer the third and final question.

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