Tuesday, 14 June 2016

MONEY TIPS FROM PROVERBS

Though it warns against greed, the book of Proverbs also guides us on how to manage our money wisely.

                                                                      
Just as there are warnings in scripture about the dangers of pursuing riches, there are also clear instructions on how to handle money.

Though warnings abound in the book of Proverbsriches do not profit on judgment day (Proverbs 11:4) and those who trust in riches will wither (Proverbs 11:28)it is also filled with wisdom for all who aspire to walk in the path of financial freedom. Scattered all over this rather disjointed book are many tips on how to manage our money and avoid pitfalls that lead to financial loss. ** 

Putting God first

First and foremost, we must fear God, which is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). Those who cherish wisdom—the by-product of seeking God—will profit from gains greater than having silver or gold (Proverbs 3:13-14).

The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honour and life (Proverbs 22:4). If we honour God with our wealth, we will be materially blessed (Proverbs 3:9-10).

But we must not envy the riches of the unscrupulous for the “little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked” (Psalms 37:16).

Committing our venture to God

Those who commit their work or enterprise to God, acknowledging that His wisdom is superior to their insight, will see God guiding them along the path of success.
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make straight your paths”(Proverbs 3:5-6).

  • “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye” (Psalm 32:8).

  • “Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3).

The righteous recognises the fact that God is the One who ultimately determines success; there is no need to strive in our own strength or wisdom. “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31).

Hard work

We are told to observe the diligent ant, which gathers food in summer so that during winter (hard times) its needs will be well provided for (Proverbs 6:6-8). In contrast, the following verses warn that sloth and slumber will result in poverty, which is the lot of a vagabond (Proverbs 6: 9-11).

“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense” (Proverbs 12:11). “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9). Pleasure lovers will also remain poor (Proverbs 21:17).

So when it is time to work hard, we should not be sleeping or seeking pleasure. Immorality may also lead to financial ruin as “a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth” (Proverbs 29:3). Similarly, those addicted to internet porn or online sex will be so distracted that they cannot be productive in their work. Their habits not only enslave them morally but destroy them financially.

Be proactive and plan

The wisdom of God is seen in the way He planned for the provision of His people’s physical needs. By sending Joseph way ahead into Egypt, God prepared him as a channel of blessing when famine descended on Israel (Psalm 105: 16-17).

Most are familiar with Joseph’s story—how he rose from pit to prison to the position of governor of Egypt, second in rank to Pharaoh. After interpreting Pharaoh’s dream that seven years of famine would follow seven years of plenty, he moved ahead with plans to build storehouses to stockpile grain. So when famine struck Israel, his brothers could come to Egypt to buy grain.

The prudent takes proactive measures to cushion the impact of impending financial crisis: “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it”(Proverbs 22:3, 27:12). “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

While we are still productive, we should plan our finances.  The need to plan is obvious, what with a longer life span and the ever-increasing rise in fuel and food prices, cost of medical care and nearly everything that impinges on our lives. He who retires at 55 has to sustain himself for roughly another 20 years. It’s advisable to start planning when we are in our 30’s or, better still, when we commence working.

Lack of planning may cause us to outlive our finances. We may then have to depend on handouts from relatives or friends. We may even have to come out of retirement and go back to work but will our health permit it?

Resilience

We must not be easily discouraged by failure.  If we fail under pressure, our strength is too small (Proverbs 24:10). The ability to rise up again and again, despite failure, is a hallmark of a successful person.

Improving our skills

“Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29).

With corporate restructuring and rationalisation, workers today often face job uncertainty and even retrenchment. Therefore, it is important to continually improve ourselves and widen our repertoire of skills (upskilling) so that we remain marketable in the eyes of potential employers. Others may decide to add another string to their bow by creating alternative income streams such as freelance writing, e-commerce or multi-level marketing.

Learning to invest

“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks and attend to your herds...the lambs will provide your clothing and the goats the price of a field” (Proverbs 27:23-26).

In an agrarian community, people attend to their flocks and gather hay for subsistence. But today we need not soil our hands as we have various investment vehicles, including property, shares or business.

Seeking knowledge

The wise man seeks knowledge before making any investment decisions, especially if it a major one. “In everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly” (Proverbs 13:16).

Hasty decisions made without due diligence often leads to failure and regret. “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way” (Proverbs 19:2).

If he lacks knowledge, he will do research or consult others who are experts in the field before making the move. “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death” (Proverbs 13:14).

The greater the number of sources he seeks counsel, the less likely he will make wrong decisions. “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).

Thrift and delayed gratification

“One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth” (Proverbs 13:7). Those who live by credit and pursue the latest fashion, electronic gizmos or fancy cars in order to impress others may face mounting debts. To come out of this modern-day slavery, they will have to live simple lives and progressively whittle away at their debts.

Assailed daily by advertisements in a consumer-oriented society, beckoning us to buy, we often have difficulty resisting. Yet, discipline and the ability to delay immediate gratification of our desires are needed before we can be free from clutches of the debt monkey.

Greed and taking risks

Those who are greedy and love to gamble or partake in ‘get rich quick’ schemes often suffer financial loss.

“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it” (Proverbs 13:11). “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it” (Proverbs 15:16).

Honesty and integrity

When God blesses us, He gives us peace and the ability to enjoy His blessings. “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honour and life” (Proverbs 22: 4). “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22).

What is the point of being rich if we neglect our calling, spouse and family, cheat others or compromise our values? What is the point of achieving worldly success if, in the process, we suffer from coronary artery disease or insomnia, constantly worrying as to how to manage our business or debts?

In conclusion, God is not stingy. He wants to abundantly bless His childrenoften materially (Psalms 103:1-5). But wealth is like a two-edged sword. How many can be trusted with great wealth? How many are like Joseph, a faithful steward who manages well the resources entrusted to him by the Master? How many can keep themselves safe from the snare of riches?

Though this blog makes a firm stand against the 'prosperity gospel', it must be stressed that money is not evil but neutral. It is the love of money which is evil: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs”(1 Timothy 6:10). 
                                                                   

The same Jesus who promised an abundant life (John 10:10) warns against greed, citing that a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions (Luke 12:15).

May we strive to be better stewards of our finances: “And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven” (Luke 16:11)? 

For this task, we are thankful for the book of Proverbs, which teaches us how to manage our money for God’s glory.

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** Note:   Psalms, to a lesser extent

1 comment:

  1. It's disappointing that we seldom get exposed to the basics of financial literacy in school, university or church. Yet, it is an issue each of us will have to face in life. Either we get too spiritual that we ignore it or we get so worldly that we get mesmerised by money. A balanced biblical worldview of personal finance is much needed. We need to be good stewards of the material resources entrusted to us.

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