Bible Proverbs explained
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Temporal values Proverbs 10:15 , Proverbs 22:7 The temporal value is a security against misfortune and also against slavery. It leads to a better quality of life Proverbs 12:9
Money enables you to have a slave, so that you can enjoy a better life. We all have appliances in our homes; in the past people did these things; todays slavery is in what we call jobs (specifically those that underpay). Without money you can’t get an education, nor a home etc. Proverbs recognizes a real value in money, but while temporal, they are still very real and impact you in this life.
- Not too much or too little. Augur, a wise man mentioned in the proverbs, prays to God on wealth by asking Him not to give him too little, lest he dishonor's Him by stealing, and not too much, lest he forget Him in his plenty.
- Helping the Poor. This is for most, common sense. If you readily accept that wealth is a gift from the most High, it follows that you will use your good fortune, to assist your fellow creatures.
The practical problem presented here is that not all of us can be Mother Teresa’s, and its natural not to want to associate with the poor; a needy person is not somebody we want to make friends with. Secondly, the world is full of rascals, masquerading as needy, but they are ravenous wolves, hungry for profit.
The practical solution is to use a well-known body like the church for purposes of directing your offering’s to the poor. The church organizes human beings for the Kingdom that is coming and assists the needy in their day to day wants. A church that focuses on Ferraris and Jets for the clergy (whose main objective is evangelization and not enrichment), is in my view far from the teachings of Christ on the role of the Church.
On the poor Proverbs 14:20-21The poor are shunned and you don’t want to associate with them, but at the same time we should be kind to them. As mentioned above, the church and those with special charisms to assist the poor should be supported to the hilt.
We may not want to admit it, but its human to shun the poor; nobody wants a needy friend or to lose existing relationships as a result of having needy friends. It’s the way it is, but many opportunities for helping them exists.
On generosity Proverbs 11:24-25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed
On past evils Ephesians 4:28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
The purpose of work is to help those in need, and thus become righteous. Money enables us to be righteous... it’s a real value… and it pays dividends in return, but we cannot say with certainty whether it’s in this life or the one to come.
On threatening the poor Proverbs 13:8 If you are not in a position to change your circumstances financially, no threat of any kind moves you. Don’t threaten the poor, they don’t frighten easily, on account of having little to lose. They rely on God and Men of goodwill to fight their battles.
How to have enduring wealth Proverbs 11:23-27 Those who seek the good, are naturally rewarded (I qualify however, in this world or the one to come). Proverbs 1:7 True and enduring wealth begins with a fear of IAM.
Our dependence on God Proverbs 3:9-10 We need to say to the community, that we depend on him both in service and in how we give. Our intention is to be righteous by aiming for righteousness.
This is in no way about the prosperity gospel, which suggests an immediate mentality of quid pro quo, that is a market transaction where you give and expect an immediate reward in return. Anyone that preaches the prosperity gospel is in my view inherently evil and should be avoided. Under no circumstances should you give any fruits to them, for the sums never reach the needy, but are devoured by Wolves in sheep’s clothing.
The spiritual world, is a world of probabilities, that fall both in this world and the afterlife. We don’t know the full workings of it all, but we do know that our temporal intentions should be about the achievement of righteousness, and the rest will follow, either in this or in the world to come or both.
On having an open hand Proverbs 11:23-27 The idea of giving freely, is going through life with an open hand, helping where you can, but with caution (meaning you give where there is a need and only to the deserving; sluggards and mockers don’t qualify).
A Christian will not use the market against the poor to enrich himself. Think of others, but be fair to yourself. If you understand business or economics, then use it for both your benefit and the benefit of others; accommodating all in the value that you intend to create in the market. Other human beings must come first before profit. It is not a zero sum game but a win-win scenario at all times; this must always be the perspective that a Christian must have.
A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapour and a deadly snare. The problem with sin (in the form of easy money), is getting accustomed to it, namely growing a callous against what is right. When you get used to easy money, you forget how to make it legitimately and frankly you no longer have the patience to wait. This is the slippery slope that becomes the achilles heel; you simply forget hard work and scorn those who do.
- Never be a surety or guarantor for anything, this is a sure way to poverty for no action of your own except your good will
- Never feed the leech Proverbs 30:15 Never feed a fool, and certainly never a sluggard…for a sluggard is worse than a fool (he who refuses to acknowledge our reliance on the almighty, and our equal status as human beings before Him). 2 Thessalonians 3:10e are obliged only to help the truly needy
On withholding good Proverbs 3:27Do not withhold good from the one who processes good; the moral good. Do not withhold material goods, from the one who processes spiritual good. You go through life generously, but you are obligated to the morally good and thus not withhold material good from them.
Have an open hand, but be careful who you give to. There are many charlatans posing as conduits for the poor and neglected, only for them to enrich themselves. The fault does not lie in the giver, but all the same choose to be discerning in your giving.
On taking care of the poor Deuteronomy 24:21In the modern world, a progressive tax system actually achieves this. The poor will benefit more from taxes than the rich, who can create the necessary infrastructure for living using private capital. Progressive taxes, tax free bands, free health care, food stamps, Social Benefits etc and the like makes life easier for the foreigner, fatherless and the widow… “leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow”… It actually belongs to them.
The same principle applies to your run of the mill mum and pop shops and small businesses in general. Why compete with small businesses when you have the capacity to make money in niches that require significantly more capital. As a rule of thumb, what requires little capital will generally be very competitive, but it becomes easier for the rich since they can compete with the fewer where more capital is required e.g Manufacturing as opposed to retailing. It is simply wrong for one to own the value chain from manufacturing to retail simply because you can; where are the poor that you find there supposed to go? Damn efficiency and applaud humanity!
Related to this kind of thinking, is the issue of social benefits and the desire to work. As human beings we must give people dignity, regardless of their innate capacity. The governments work is to ensure that its citizens attain a reasonable standard of living, that is further supplemented by hard work. Ensuring a reasonable living standard through social benefits, is also a cure for many societal evils brought upon by poverty.
1Timothy 5:3-6 This is a natural law and pleasing to God
Give what you can, and no more Proverbs 3:27 We are not to give more than we can afford. Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Ecclesiastes 7:18 We help only when it is in our power to do so; do not borrow to help. Whoever fears God will avoid extremes. By fearing God we obtain discernment to make decisions in regard to the needy. You should never do so at the expense of your obligations to your loved ones and those whom God has given to you as your wards. To do so is to test God, who has given you the means to take care of them.
Be diligent, content, patient and hardworking Prov 12:11-24 Working the land is tilling, fertilizing and cultivating; this is hard work. Get rich quick schemes, and fantasies along the same lines leads to nowhere but failure. Hard work inculcates character; the character needed to enjoy the fruits of that hard work. There is much truth in the saying that “a fool and his money are soon parted”. Easy come, is truly easy go, for the hard work does not act as a buttress Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers little by little lets it grow.
Prov 14:23 Is against foolish spending.
Prov 13:11 In all toil there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
I have always loved these proverbs. Hard work is truly its own reward. Indeed, the profit margins may differ from one activity to the next, but one will always be in the black when following these Godly principles.
Tim 6:6 Indeed, enjoy the creation of God, but in all things let there be moderation.
Hurry hurry has no blessings Proverbs 21:5 As a kid we always heard the adage “Hurry hurry has no blessings”. Haste in money/material things connotes greed. Haste in speech connotes a lack of self-reflection. Never do anything in haste, or feel the urge to act hastily. There will always be a chance for profit or putting in a word; if it can’t wait, then it was never for you to act or say.
It is imperative to establish a firm economic base by taking care of your sources of income through planning and hard work. Get your fields ready and then build your house. Know the condition of your sheep and cattle, because riches don’t endure without maintenance.
Always replenish your income sources. There is a constant resupply in the order of creation to sustain wealth; creation constantly reproduces itself. As God resupplies, we must rethink to fit this new order of things.
On gifting the rich Proverbs 22:16 Gifts to the rich are typically for favours and not out of love; they are the same as bribes (to protect what he has obtained by oppression; so shall he lose by being oppressed by the rich he seeks help from). The oppressor and self-aggrandizer suffer the loss of love.
The oppressed Luke 14:12-14 In case you imagine that oppression of the poor does not affect you, here are some not so obvious examples:
- Underpaying the worker (beneath the cost of living)
- Exorbitant salaries to management and low wages to workers
- Sweat shops
- Controlling the supply chain thus locking out smaller producers (even when you are already swimming in profitability)
- Unnecessary competition that leads to growth of market share for larger firms at the expense of smaller
- Substandard products
- Fake weights and measures
- Denying producer countries, a fair share of price to alleviate poverty in producer nations
Frankly, the list is endless...
Related to the above is the issue of social benefits to the poor as a means of giving them a decent standard of living. The spirit of the Government in doing so, is to give dignity on the one hand and prevent social ills that arise from poverty and hunger. The argument that social benefits makes the poor lazy, in my view can only come from those that have not encountered hunger and the other travails of poverty.