Money is powerful. It’s a determining factor in where we live, what we eat, what we wear, and often what we do with our days. So we would be wise to consider how we can manage our money well.
But even more than that, in order to live a joyful and God-honoring life, we need to exercise wisdom in how we relate to money–how we feel about it, what space it has in our hearts, and how it factors into our relationship with Jesus. This conversation consumes key facets of our lives.
That’s probably why the bible talks about money so much. There’s so much to consider and seek to get right. In particular, throughout the Proverbs, Solomon gives us advice on a number of key topics related to money. Since he was both one of the richest and wisest men to ever live, we would be wise to listen to his words and apply them to our lives.
Here are seven money lessons from the ancient wisdom of the Proverbs.
1. Wealth is a good thing, but it isn’t the ultimate thing.
Too often, Christians assume that money is inherently evil. But what Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 6:10 isn’t that money is the root of all kinds of evil, but that an unhealthy love for it is.
Wealth, when you obtain it by honorable means, is actually a sign of God’s blessing on your life and the work that you do.
The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,
without painful toil for it.
Sometimes, God multiplies your efforts and gives you a return disproportionate to what you could have hoped or dreamed for. And that’s a good thing. You should be grateful to God for it.
But you should also always bear in mind that this blessing isn’t a guarantee. While God’s grace and his provision in your life will be a constant, he never promised us lifelong financial freedom. We live in a fallen world, and wealth is ultimately fleeting.
Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
for they will surely sprout wings
and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
Sometimes, you find yourself in financially difficult situations due to poor choices. But, other times, a person’s money seems to fly away through no fault of their own. In either case, wealth is a divine blessing but never a sure thing.While God's grace and his provision in your life will be constant, he never promised us lifelong financial freedom. Click To Tweet
2. Greed is toxic.
Throughout the Proverbs, Solomon sternly warns us against greed—especially when that greed causes us to deal underhandedly with others.
The greedy bring ruin to their households,
but the one who hates bribes will live.
If you’re motivated by greed, you will ultimately end up in a place where you self-destruct. And when you self-destruct, you tend to take down everyone around you. You’ll also stir up conflict wherever you go.
The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the LORD will prosper.
No one wants to be around someone who is going to penny-pinch them. A person who’s obsessed with always “getting what they deserve” or “what’s owed” to them is typically a toxic person.
3. Debt is dangerous.
Regardless of how much money you make or how hard you work, debt will always be a limiting factor in your financial goals. Those to whom you owe money have considerable control over your life.
The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is slave to the lender.
Sometimes, debt is unavoidable. Few of us can pay for our college educations, commute vehicles, or homes simply by writing a check. And it would be unreasonable to assume that we could—especially if you’re young and just starting out.
Be that as it may, it’s important to always have a healthy suspicion of debt. If you need to take out a loan for an important purchase, be sure that you have a plan to pay it off (preferably early). Don’t max out credit cards with money you don’t have. It will only serve to take away your freedom.It's important to always have a healthy suspicion of debt. Click To Tweet
4. Being a good person is good for business.
A common misconception for young entrepreneurs and aspiring career people looking to rise to a place of leadership in their industry is that you necessarily need to step over (or on) other people in order to get there.
But the wisdom of the Proverbs actually teaches us the opposite. Being a good person is good for business. In the long run, having an honorable and righteous character is good for your career.
One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth
and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.
Cooking the books, lying on your taxes, and throwing coworkers under the bus so that you can get the big promotion all work–in the short term. But eventually that bill will come due.
Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor
amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.
Being just, kind, and generous in the midst of your efforts to excel in your industry sometimes means that your progress will be slower. But your progress will be more stable and secure, as well as God-honoring.Cooking the books, lying on your taxes, and throwing coworkers under the bus so that you can get the big promotion all work–in the short term. But that bill will eventually come due. Click To Tweet
5. The hustle isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.
We live in the age of the hustle. Most career people have at least one side hustle, to supplement their income, to gain exposure, or to hopefully transition to a different industry or full-time job role.
You can overwork yourself for a season. But if you don’t eventually transition to a more sustainable pace, you’ll burn yourself out.
Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
do not trust your own cleverness.
It may feel like you’re leaving opportunities on the table in order to scale back your hustle. Nevertheless, you’ll still be coming out ahead; because when burn out hits you, you’re taken out of the game completely.
None of this is to say that there’s anything wrong with hard work. Quite the opposite.
Those who work their land will have abundant food,
but those who chase fantasies have no sense.
Working hard and building margin for rest into your life aren’t mutually exclusive. Setting aside the constant hustle may feel like it’s limiting your opportunities. But if you just consistently work hard over the course of time, you’ll always have enough to eat and enjoy life with.Working hard and building margin for rest into your life aren't mutually exclusive. Click To Tweet
6. A generous life is a blessed life.
There are few things more close to the heart of God than generosity. In fact, Solomon tells us that when we’re generous, we’re partnering with God in some of the most important work he wants to do in the world.
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will reward them for what they have done.
It’s out of our love for God that we’re able to generously express love to those in need through our financial gifts and support. Refusing to do so is to reject God’s will for our lives.
It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor,
but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.
A generous life is a blessed life. Not all blessings are financial. Whatever you give of your finances for the benefit will be multiplied and returned to you in spiritual blessing.Not all blessings are financial. Click To Tweet
7. God will always provide.
How we handle our money is often a reflection of the condition of our faith. When we trust in ourselves to provide our own resources, we tend to overwork and constantly worry. And we’re tempted to undercut those around us to engage in less-than-honorable practices in order to amass those resources.
But at the end of the day, that’s no way to live.
Those who trust in their riches will fall,
but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
God will care for you. He promises to. You won’t always have the resources that you wish you had, but God will tend to your needs. You just need to trust him.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
None of this means that you don’t need to work hard or be smart with your money. Trusting in God and allowing him to guide your path is what motivates and empowers those very things. It’s when you rely on him to make your paths straight that the road ahead becomes more clear.You won't always have the resources that you wished you had, but God will tend to your needs. Click To Tweet
Pay attention to the spiritual component of money.
Whenever we receive advice about how to use or interact with our money, we don’t often frame that conversation in spiritual terms. So long as we’re tithing, we feel like maybe the whole conversation is entirely too pragmatic for God.
But that’s not the case. God cares about every aspect of your life, and your relationship to money is a major facet of who you are.
So no matter how seemingly mundane it may feel in the moment, always be willing to invite God into the conversation. Ask him to teach you to be faithful to him with your money–the way you feel about it, spend it, invest it, and give it.
MORE RESOURCES TO CHECK OUT
If you found this article helpful, these books might be useful resources to you.
- The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving by Randy Alcorn
- Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller