The book of Proverbs has a remarkably balanced understanding of wealth and poverty. Neither is seen as wholly good or wholly bad. They are understood as part of the wider fabric of life, and we are encouraged to use what we have wisely.
(Proverbs 19 :13-22).
‘Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord’ (v.14). There is nothing wrong with houses or wealth; but there are more important things in life.
For those tempted to work too hard in pursuit of money or any other goal, it is important to remember the sovereignty of God: ‘Many are the plans in a human heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails’ (v.21). Taking ‘Sabbath rest’ and holidays is a sign that we trust in God’s sovereignty.
Wealth is not the most important thing in life; nor is poverty the worst thing that can happen to us: ‘What a person desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar’ (v.22). We need love far more than we need riches. Integrity of character is far more important than money.
On the other hand, this passage does not exalt poverty as a virtue. Sometimes poverty can be self-inflicted: ‘Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless go hungry’ (v.15).
Whatever the reason may be for a person’s poverty, we should be kind to the poor: ‘Those who are kind to the poor lend to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done’ (v.17).
This is an extraordinary and wonderful promise. God is no person’s debtor. Every time you do something kind for a poor person, you are lending to the Lord and he will repay with interest. Often we see amazing blessings in the lives of those who spend their time ministering with the poor, the homeless and the prisoners.
Lord, I entrust you with my finances and my future. Help me to live a life of generosity to all – especially the poor.
Mary Samuel Shofowora
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