He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses. Proverbs 28:27
One of the things the Scriptures are certain about is the responsibility of the people of God to give to the poor. This proverb relates this responsibility in a way that reminds us of the Covenant God made with His people. That covenant often gets a bad reputation for being all about "thou shalt nots." Some think it is a religious buzz-kill - that only tells us what we cannot do. Those who think this way don't realize that there is great deal in the Old Testament Law that speaks of showing compassion and mercy.
Israel was an agrarian society - and as such there were a number of laws that encouraged them to provide for the poor. One of the things that they were told was to only harvest the land once - and not go over it a second time. This was the case with ground crops as well as things like olives and fruit which are grown on trees. The extra was to be left for the poor. This was one way they gave to the poor - as well as with what were called, "alms" which were specific financial gifts given to care for the poor in society.
God intended for the poor to receive more than just money or food. The church is better equipped morally to help the poor than the government. Governments most often just give out money. Unfortunately this leads to government programs that do more to harm than help the poor. The phrase a hand up - rather than just a hand out comes to mind. Government has made laws that actually award immoral behavior by offering more help to those who have children out of wedlock. These kind of laws may help with the hand out - but they have a bad tendency to lock people into assisted living - rather than help them to eventually become self-reliant and self-sustaining. When the church offers help, they can address immoral behavior in a way that government cannot do. This is the way God desires for the poor to be blessed. He desires for a person's moral choices to be addressed, for often a mroal choice leads to a blight on our financial state.
We are told here that the one who gives to the poor will never want. Another proverb states that when we give to the poor, we are lending to the Lord. When we do this - God will be sure to bless us and meet our needs. The second half of this proverb addresses what often happens when the poor are neglected. We do this by closing our eyes to the problem and to their needs. We simply shut our eyes - and then shut our hearts to their plight. This, according to God's Word, will bring to the one who does it, many curses. First there is the curse which comes from not obeying God's law. That comes with a withdrawal of blessings from God. But there is also a curse that comes from the poor as well. They watch as the rich pamper themselves and ignore their situation. In some situations this reaches a fever pitch and results in revolutions and other violent confrontations. The French Revolution was such a reaction to the abuses of the rich.
God desires for His people - and His church - to care for and love the poor. Because the church has adbicated her role in this - the government has taken over this task. The result of our disobedience in this area is that the government begins to take greater and greater amounts of money to give to the poor. In the end, we are cursed with over-reaching government intrustion into our finances and our lives. We are also cursed with a government which in time realizes it can control the people through ever increasing gifts to the poor. This leads to a curse on those with any level of financial security in society, because the government must increase its revenues to continue the giveaways. This is why God wants His Word to govern such charity - because without something to guide us - our natural sinful tendencies will lead us to use our gifts to secure power or influence.
A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth And does not know that want will come upon him. Proverbs 28:22
Greed and a heart that chases after wealth and riches - is a terrible condition to see in a man. The Bible describes such a conditioin as having an "evil eye." This phrase is actually a Hebraism which meant to be greedy about money - and very stingy about giving any of it to anyone other than himself. When a man lives this way, he has an evil eye.
Another way of stating this is found in this same Hebraism in the New Testament. In Luke we see Jesus say this about a person's eye. "The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. "Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. (Luke 11:34-35) The "bad eye" mentioned here is said to be full of darkness. This is a similar Hebraism that speaks of the evil or the bad eye. What is interesting is that both of these passages refer to someone who is very greedy with their money. Whether in the Old Testament or the New, this condition is considered a bad one to have.
Here is the problem - when money fills our eye - little else does. Therefore we don't have our eyes on the Lord - and neither can we see past money to recognize the needs of others that should move us to compassion and a giving heart. The evil eye is hastening after wealth. The word for "hasten" here is "bahal" and it means to be in a hurry for fear or dismay that one won't get what they are chasing. The unwise man is chasing wealth. He is not just after money - he wants a lot of money. He won't be satisfied until he has a little more - and that condition will be terminal.
This man is igorant of something that is happening to him even as he pursues his money. Slowly but surely want is coming upon him. It may not be a want of cash - it may be a want that grows as he ignores family, friends, and God in his endless pursuit of just a little more. The writer, Charles Dickens gave us the unforgettable Ebenezeer Scrooge in his book entitled, "A Christmas Carol." Scrooge was a man who had enormous amounts of wealth in reference to his bank account. Unfortunately for him such a boon in his bank led to utter bankruptcy everywhere else. The visits from the three spirits who came to show him his poverty woke him up to the fact that while he hastened after wealth - want had come upon him. It was a want that could not be satisfied with money alone. That fortunate night cured Scrooge of his evil eye - yet his name lives forever in our minds as a term that speaks of a miserly, miserable heart that loves little other than its money.
May God help us to embrace wisdom as a result of today's proverb. Wisdom is to have what Jesus called a "clear eye" that is "filled with light." That light will be the Word of God that will instruct us in true riches. Those may include physical wealth - but will never be limited to it along. The true riches must always include a tender heart that yields an open hand that does not hold tightly to financial wealth. It sees such blessings as God-given, and therefore to be God-directed to those who need it most. When we live this way it is not want that is coming to us, but blessing. The blessing of having our treasure in heaven and our true riches found in a relationship with God's Son, Jesus Christ.
He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not become rich. Proverbs 21:17
Much can be discerned about a society and people by those it deems as their heros. Ours is a society in very serious decline - and that can be fairly easily discerned when one examines our heros. Those considered our heros today are people in the entertainment industry and sports stars. Singers and actors are paraded before us day after day even though they offer little of nothing to us outside of entertainment. Their broken lives are the source of the headlines of our tabliods. Each a little more lurid than the last one - we are watch them self-destruct with baited breath. When the next star arises (especially a child star) we can predict the sad trail that will be followed. We will find that if they are rich intially, their riches will vanish - or be consumed by the wreckage of failed marriages, arrests, and stints in drug rehabilitation facilities. The plot of such lives is as predictable as the plot of a soap opera - and usually as ungodly as well.
Take for example Mike Tyson, of boxing fame. Tyson squandered a $350 million to $400 million dollar fortune. What did he do to lose all this money? He dropped half a million dollars on a 420-horsepower Bentley Continental SC with lamb’s wool rugs, a phone and a removable glass roof. He definitely loved expensive cars because he spent over $4.5 million dollars on cars alone. Throw in a $2 million dollar bathtub and $140,000 for two Bengal tigers and you can see why Tyson’s fortune went down the drain and he filed for bankruptcy in 2003.
We are warned that the ones who love pleasure will become poor. Often for these people hard work, frugality, and restraint are not in their vocabulary. They are far more interested in parties, pleasure, and indugence of their lusts. They are living for the so-called "good time" that they can have here and now - with little or no thought of what lies beyond the end of the week. Their lives are spent on pleasure, the pursuit of things, and often on sexual immorality.
Wine and oil are mentioned in this warning. Those who love these two things, it warns, will not become rich. Wine and oil were the usual things to be had at expensive banquets. This was not ordinary wine, but expensive wine. When I go to higher class restaurants that serve wine, I am shocked that some wines cost over 200 to 300 dollars per bottle. There are wines out there priced at over $1000 to $5000 each bottle. Someone wanting to impress their friends with an expensive banquet would purchase the very best wines to be served there. The oils could also be very extravagant in their price range. Mary was criticized for using an ointment to annoint Jesus that cost almost an entire year's worth of wages. For the rich, such ointments were given to their guests as a sign of their wealth. Their parties and banquets would be filled with the expensive smell of high priced oils. Doing this would cost a fortune - and would assure that the one doing it would not be wealthy for long.
The prodigal son had great wealth when he left his father's house. But he soon squandered it with rich, loose living. His parties were probably the stuff of legend to those who attended. The only problem was that when the money ran out - and the parties became austere in their appearance - all his so-called friends left. The one who loves the pleasures of his flesh will not become rich. His riches and wealth will be swallowed whole by his wicked appetite. This is why we are counselled not to love such things. We are instead told that the wise man is the one who leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren. He is the one who invests so as to reap long-term benefits and rewards. Ultimately he knows that he will take nothing with him when he dies. Thus the wisest man invests in the kingdom of God and the advance of the gospel - sending true riches ahead of him to the one place where moth and rust do not destroy and where no thief can break in or steal. The wise man knows to invest in heavenly things that glorify God is the safest investment of all. Therefore he lives with God's glory as his goal in all things - financial, physical, and spiritual. This will be a rich man, now, as well as for all eternity.
In all labor there is profit, But mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23
Peter Lord said, "You DO what you actually believe, all the rest is merely religious talk. This is a quote that I've read and remembered for years, because it keeps me away from the foolish practice of being all about the talk, but very little about actions that support what I say.
This proverb is not trying to get us to stop talking or speaking about the things of God. What it is trying to do is to help us see that it is foolish to talk big, but act small. Too often Christians have said very big things about how they would minister, or what needs to be done in our world - but they have not acted on their own passion to see things changed. The Lord wants us to say things that are Scriptural - especially when those things radically impact our world with the gospel. But when we DO nothing to see them come to pass, this is the height of arrogance and presumption.
There is profit in labor - in working hard to see something done, something made, something come to pass. But we need to be very careful that we are actually DOING something. You can have amazing and incredible ideas in the business world - but eventually someone is going to have to put effort and time into see those wonderful ideas turn into actual products and services. The business world is replete with men who dreamed big, but produced little. The ones that blessed generations were those who took their talk and turned it into work and finished things.
We are warned that mere talk leads to poverty. Just talking about things will get you no where. But some talk - and then they talk in bigger groups - then they hold summits on getting huge groups to talk. But in the end they will all wind up in poverty - either in real goods or in a poverty of spirit because their actions never translated into deeds and effort. There MUST BE WORK to succeed. No work equals no success.
The wise man not only talks - but works. He takes the time to dream and to plan - but also is wise because he take the time spend talking and planning and puts it into a course of action which, when taken, will bless those who do so with very profitable outcomes. Talk, dream, plan - but be wise enough to put those plans into demonstrable action.
Poverty and shame will come
to him who neglects discipline, But he who regards reproof will be honored. Proverbs 13:18
Everyone would like to see their hopes and dreams realized. One of these dreams is that of earning a fortune. The conventional wisdom of this world says that if you work hard and apply yourself these things can be yours. But the Word of God counsels us a little differently. There is more to success than just making a lot of money because you work hard. Far too many men who stepped on the road to their riches - wound up unable to achieve them because they would not listen to counsel and accept discipline. They would not take wise advice - and as a result were not honored in the end.
The Word of God ties the whole idea of wealth and blessing to something more than hard work. The Bible teaches us to work hard and apply ourselves in what we do. That is why we hear about the "protestant work ethic." But there is so much more to "true success" than just having a lot of money. Real success biblically is tied most of all to knowing and walking in God's favor. Beyond that God also speaks of things like character and virtue. These things are developed by not only working hard - but also in submitting to the counsel of wise and godly people. What many people do not understand is that submission to such wise counsel also means being willing to accept criticism. Let me put before you two Old Testament examples from which we can learn.
We first come to a King in the Old Testament named Rehoboam. He was the son of Solomon who received the kingdom when his father died. The people came to him asking for him to lighten the load that his father put on them. Rehoboam asked his father's counselors what to do. They advised him to take a position of servant to the poeple, lighten their load, and they would serve him. He rejected such counsel and chose instead to listen to his own friends who said to be harsh and tell the people who was king and who was in charge. He rejected wise counsel from godly men. The end was that he was NOT honored. He wound up losing 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel. He also was humbled further when he would not listen to God's life-giving rebuke and turn from his idolatrous ways. In the end, his kingdom was severely weakened and eventually overrun by Egypt.
The second king we seek to learn from is David. David was confronted and rebuked by Nathan the prophet for his sexual sin with Bathsheba. Instead of neglecting this correction and discipline, he received it - and was restored. He had some pretty severe discipline for what he did - but never rebelled against it. He knew he deserved far worse - and therefore submitted himself to God in all of it. David was honored for being a man after God's own heart. Such praise was given because of his repentance and willingness to undergo and learn from discipline. It turned him from a disastrous course and back into the arms of God.
It is so important that we be wise and learn that it takes hard work and discipline to truly succeed in life. Those who do such things will be blessed in the end. Their lives may not be profiled among the rich and the famous - but they will be honored in the one place where it matters. They will be honored before the throne of God in the day of judgment. It is there where we find out whether we are blessed and wealthy - or whether we are going to know eternal poverty and shame. Be wise - choose the former - submit to God - and listen to life-giving rebuke.
The rich man's wealth is his fortress, The ruin of the poor is their poverty. The wages of the righteous is life, The income of the wicked, punishment. Proverbs 10:15-16
To rightly understand the first proverb here in verse 15, we must push on to read it with the proverb in verse 16. If we do not do this, we will think that the acquisition of money is the end of man's existance. Although God encourages us to prepare for the future and to work hard so that through His blessing we may leave an inheritance to our children's children, this does not mean that gaining wealth is to be our highest aim.
We first learn of the fact that money can provide a measure of protection. The rich man's wealth is his fortress. There is much that a rich man can do to protect himself from harm due to his wealth. He is protected from much in life due to this. A fortress is a place one stays during an attack - it was a place of safety. For the rich man - his wealth can prevent him from a quick ruin by difficult circumstances. One example for us to remember is the wisdom of setting aside money for problems that we know will come in the future. The man who acquires some wealth can set aside money for problems that ARE going to come. In our society, if you own a car or other mechanical item, you are assured that a breakdown of some sort is in your future. If you spend everything you have - you will not have anything set aside for this difficulty. The wise man acquires wealth for this very purpose. He puts money away for the repair and replacement of such items. Therefore when a difficult time comes, he has money for these things. The poor man often is ruined by such situations. He does not know what to do and often sees ruin come to his financial picture because of debt he obtains seeking to fix or replace things or he just has to do without, which could be a very problematic hardship. Wealth can be a protection for us.
The problem with this proverb is that one might think wealth is the ultimate protection. Therefore we must gain wealth however we can. Such thinking is ungodly - and will lead to ruin, if not now - then in eternity. Therefore we have a clarification in the next verse. We are told that the wages or income of the righteous is life - which the income of the wicked is punishment. If we are seeking righteousness - a life that pursues God and desires to do what God says is true and just - we will be blessed. We may not have a tremendous amount of money - but we will have what is necessary at the end of the age. We will have life! The wicked though, however rich they may become, have a serious problem. Their income will be punishment. Thus a man may be tremendously wealthy by all outward appearances - but he may be dirt poor in spirit. The rich farmer in the gospels had enough to tear down his old barns and build new ones to fill with even more earthly riches - but the very night his soul was required - he was found destitute.
Remember that wealth and riches are defined in a number of different ways in Scripture. They may be physical wealth - or they may be spiritual riches in Christ Jesus. It is wise to remember that to be physically wealthy according to James is to be put in a humble place by God. It is difficult for an earthly rich man to enter heaven - because he has a bad tendency to trust his riches. To be poor is also defined different ways. Whereas it may be a bad thing to be financially poor - it is a blessed state to know that we are poor in spirit. Realizing these things will help us better define true wealth and true poverty.
He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself Or who gives to the rich, will
only come to
poverty. Proverbs 22:16
How we treat the poor says a great deal about our heart. There is one thing God is very clear about throughout the Word of God - and that is that He desires for us to care for the poor in our society. One thing I need to differentiate before I continue is that God also makes a clear distinction between the poor and the lazy. Too often we view the poor as anyone who does not have enough - whereas God describes them as those who do not have enough, but who are that way not because they refuse to work. By saying this I am not saying that everyone who is poor is unwilling to work - but I am saying that among those who do not have enough are far too many who are that way because either they won't work - or because their lifestyle choices (i.e. alcohol, drugs, laziness) is what is the cause of their need. That being said, I want to turn to this proverb and make a few comments.
The one who oppresses the poor to make more for himself is odious to God. The word "more" here is actually the word for having much. This person is abusing the poor not because he wants to make a living - but because he wants to be wealthy. His desire to have much drives him to not see people - all he sees is money. The word "oppress" has the idea of extorting money from someone. It also is used to speak of those who cheat their workers out of their wages. There is an acceptable way to earn a large amount of money in a business, but to do so on the backs of workers who are not paid properly is not the way to do this. God will not bless such a man.
The second warning here is for those who give to the rich. These people shut their hearts to the poor - but instead give to a rich man to curry favor with him. They do so as little more than a sycophant who is wanting by his gifts to have the rich man give him something in the end. The Scriptures say that such a practice will only come to poverty in the end. There may be a temporary return for such a man's wicked investment, but in the end such practices only last as long as the gifts keep coming. Let someone else offer a larger or more impressive gift and the rich man will turn to him, forgetting the poor schlub who gave him a lesser gift last year.
Our money belongs to God - and He desires that we use it wisely. This means that we do business honestly and wisely. Giving gifts to customers is not ungodly when the gifts are given with a true sense of gratefulness for their patronage. Being wise with wages so that a business continues to make a profit is not ungodly either. What the Lord is seeking to get across to us here is that when we do business and make a bigger bottom line our god - we are going to wind up serving money rather than God. When God blesses our bottom line, He wants us to always remember the poor. To forget them and see the rich as the only ones who can continue to bless us is to ultimately forget God - Who is the ultimate One to honor and please for future prosperity and blessing.
For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe one
with rags. Proverbs 23:21 (NASB)
Here are the consequences of the sins of drunkenness and gluttony. The father of these sons has been seeking to aim for their hearts on these issues. Now he does so by letting them know where these sins will take them in the future.
This dad is not brow-beating his boys as he says this. If he was, this would not be three verses long - but 1003. That is the way of the lecture - and most of them are usually ignored. This wise father takes the time to give his sons a call to wise and a godly heart. Then he takes a moment to offer them a command of instruction - and follows that up with a warning about the consequences that are coming for those who live such lifestyles. Then he is quiet. Having an advanced degree in the art of "Father-Lecturing," I wish that I was wholly unlearned in this area. I've engaged in lectures that took far too long - and were usually tuned out the moment I began my second (of 53 points). This dad just puts out the facts - and lets them sit with his son.
This dad knows that if his sons ignore him - all the additional words in the world will make little to no difference. They will become the cautionary tale for others through the consequences that come upon them. As a result, this father wants to make sure his sons know the truth - but that they know it with brevity and a lack of wordiness. Their hearts will not be turned due to the length of his talks. They will be changed and turned due to the work of the Holy Spirit as He seeks to teach them and lead them in the truth.
The heavy drinker and glutton will come to poverty. This is the first warning and consequence that the dad tells his son. For a few years in seminary I had the honor of being able to work and preach at the Union Mission in Memphis, Tennessee. We would serve food to the men - and afterward would take turns bringing a message to them. After the preaching we would sit with whoever was interested and share with them personally. While doing this I met numerous men who were in bondage to alcohol. Many of these men were former executives - some who would still be wearing an expensive suit - as they slept on the streets of Memphis. Their drunkenness had destroyed their lives. I remember one man who had previously had an office in a downtown skyscraper. He told me that just two years ago he was pulling down a six-figure salary, had a beautiful family, and lived in a house worth nearly $350,000. Due to the sin of drunkenness and an addiction to alcohol - he had lost all of this. Every month that I read this passage - I usually remember him. Truly, his sin and brought him to poverty. The glutton will have the same problems as well. His poverty though may be an inability to play with his children - or a poverty of respect as others wonder why he has so little self-control. His poverty may be a lack of self-respect himself - as he struggles with his weight. I've personally experienced some of these things as I've struggled with gluttony.
The second thing that happens to those who indulge in these sins is that a drowsiness will come upon them. It is a drowsiness that will clothe them with rags. Both of these sins lead to a lack of awareness and also - honestly - a person who has to sleep more. The drunk has it because he has to sleep off the affects of his drinking. The glutton experiences it because he is too full - or too overweight to exercise. The result of that is that he is sleepy all the time. There are also problems that result from blood sugar levels and other medical conditions that rob the glutton from the alertness that he should have. These things, if left undealt with long enough, will clothe these men with rags. They will miss promotions - and some will even lose their jobs.
The wise father will warn his children of the real consequences of these sins. He does so - not to be melodramatic. He even avoids such things. But he does tell his sons the truth. His hope is that ultimately such warnings will open their eyes to the problems that lie ahead when these sins are ignored. The goal of all this is not just that his sons won't be drunks and gluttons. Too often young people in the church equate Christianity with phrases like, "A Christian doesn't drink, doesn't chew, and doesn't go with girls that do." This kind of training does more to harm our kids than help them. It gives them the false idea that if they just steer clear of these evil three sins that they are right with God. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the end we want to win our children's hearts - not just burn a three rule list into their minds. We want them to be wise - not just in these couple of areas - but in all of life. Dads - don't get caught in the trap of warning your kids about your list of deadly sins - but not giving them the gospel and good rounded biblical teaching. We want more than obedience to us in a couple of areas. We want obedience to God in all of life. This we will obtain when we aim straight for their hearts - and have as our aim - that they be wise, godly, and Christ-centered. When we see these things in their hearts - we will know that we've been truly successful!
Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God. Proverbs 30:8-9
Here is the request of a wise man. It is a very wise request because it deals in two things that will derail a life that is seeking to be guided by God. It deals with deception and greed. As you seek to walk through this world in a way that pleases and honors God - you will find that these two things are snares that often will seek to trip your feet and make you stumble. The man who watches for them - and cries out for God to deliver him from them - is wise indeed.
His first request deals with deception. He cries out to God to keep deception and lies far from him. If we are going to live a godly life, we are going to have to have truth. The wise man has come to know that there is an absolue truth that God gives in His Word. He will cling to it. Jesus prayed for His disciples, "Santify them in the truth. Your Word is truth." If we are going to be purified and preserved in this life - it will be because God has kept us from deception and lies. There is one sure cure for lies - and it is the truth. Why should we be in God's Word every day? Why should it dwell richly within us? Why should we hide that Word in our hearts? It is so that we know the truth - because it is only that truth that will set us free. The most secure prison in the world is nothing compared to a man who enslaves himself by believing lies and deception.
The wise man's second request has to deal with the sin of greed. The best way to describe the danger of greed is by sharing the answer of a man who was very wealthy. He was asked how much money it would take for him to be content. His answer was telling because it did not refer to a specific, fixed amount. He sad, "Just a little more." There is the danger of greed. No amount is enough because we will be deceived into thinking that a little more will give us the illusive happiness that we seek from money. Our problem is that we were not made for money. Elsewhere in Scripture we are warned that when we set our eyes on wealth - it takes wings and flies to the heavens - always just a little beyond our reach. This pursuit will take forever - and will never end in contentment. The truth is that we were made for God - and until we find our contentment in Him - we will never be truly content.
The writer of Proverbs cries out and asks for neither poverty or riches. He knows that both of those situations leaves him in want. Poverty in a want for enough - and riches in a want for just a little more. What he asks for is the food that is his portion. Ah, a wise man he is indeed. His words parallel those of Jesus in His teaching on prayer. "Give us THIS DAY our DAILY BREAD!" There is wisdom - give me what I need today - and keep me in need of only one thing constantly. Keep me constantly needing You, Lord! That is the prayer of the wise man.
Next the wise man states why this request for enough for today is truly wisdom. First, he knows that too often the rich man thinks he does not need God. He looks to his riches and foolish thinks he does not need God. Such was the case for the rich farmer in the parable of the rich fool told by our Lord. He thought his bumper crop meant that he was set for life. His problem though was that he was not set for death. God came to him and called him a fool. That night he was to die - and he would suddenly have nothing. All his wealth was left behind - and since he did not prepare to meet God - he faced a horrific fate. He was about to enter into eternal poverty - having decided that storing up treasures in heaven was not a worthy pursuit. Here on earth his riches deceived him into thinking, "Who is the Lord?" The answer to that question is one that does not need to be put off until after death. It needs to be answered here and now - because the one who puts it off - or ignores it altogether - will spend all eternity in a poverty that will consume his flesh with fire forever and ever as the smoke of his torment will never cease to rise in an epitaph revealing his eternal stupidity.
The second reason he asks God for enough is because he knows that hunger may deceive a man into thinking that stealing is a way of getting enough. Want often leads men to profane God's name by their thievery. They steal thinking that God has not provided and therefore they need to take things into their own hands.
Here is a wise man - praying. He seeks God for what is necessary for that day. He also knows that the best thing for him is to have to do this each and every day. His stomach may be full - and possibly can be provided for well into the future. But - he knows that his need of the Lord will never subside. He needs God continuously. May it be the wisdom of that need that guides us to our knees daily to ask for God's mercy and grace to deliver us from the twin foes of deception and greed.
He who increases his wealth by interest and usury gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor. Proverbs 28:8
Is God against all lending that is done establishing a level of interest that is charged for the use of the money? Some would look at today's proverb and say yes. But before we decide to level wholesale accusations against the banking industry, let's take a closer look at what God is saying in this proverb.
God says that those who increase their wealth by interest and usury - will only gather it for the one who will be gracious to the poor. What are the principles here - and how do we deal with the wisdom of this in today's world?
First of all, God told Israel that they could not charge interest to their brethren (Exodus 22:25
; Leviticus 25:3
6-37; Deut. 23:19
). They could, however, charge interest to a foreigner (Deut. 23:20
). The question that we need to ask is whether this was in regard to the poor among the people - or in all matters of commerce. The passages mentioned here refer to the poor. The Bible speaks very strongly to the fact that we need to be gracious to the poor. What God is prohibiting is the use of interest to keep the poor mired in their poverty. This was expressly forbidden. The people of Israel were to be kind to one another - especially the poor among them. Thus, what we have here is the prohibition of interest put on the poor in Israel.
If this were not the case, then we would ahve a huge problem in the New Testament in the parable of the talents. This is a story where God is represented as One who gives 10, 5, and 1 talent of money to three different servants. When the third tells him he hid his talent in the ground and is giving it back. The owner calls him a wicked slave - and says that he should have at least taken his money and given it to the bankers so that he woul have received his money back with interest. So what we see is that in regard to commerce interest can be charged for money lent for the purpose of doing business. But even in this regard God is definitely opposed to excessive interest being charged. This does not bode well for our friends at the credit card companies who charge 18-20% or those who give cash advances on people's paychecks at rates sometimes above 50% or more.
God's promise to those who do this is simple. God will eventually take their profits and redirect them to the poor - or at least to one who will lend to them in the way God desires. Know this before you decide to try to get rich with disreputable people. God sees all things - including every business that is getting rich on ungodly principles. Among these are those who get rich on the backs of the poor and disadvantaged. God will even things out one day - and often is doing it without us even realizing it. It is better to make a little less - or none at all - if our other option is to become rich in an ungodly fashion. This is especially true for those who want to bilk the poor out of their money by burying them in debt. Beware - because while burying them under a load of debt - you are burying yourself under a load of judgment.