You would expect that the richest man who ever lived would have something to say about money, and, in Solomon’s case, you would be right. He has plenty to say. There is a wealth of wisdom about wealth in Proverbs. With money, there is not only much to earn, but there is much to learn. In fact, the entire Bible has much to say about money. Howard Dayton, the founder of Crown Ministries has counted about five hundred verses in the Bible on prayer, but over 2,350 on how to handle money and possessions.
The amount of hard cash lost each year in the United States amounts to about $75 per capita. The total average income for most of this planet comes to about $69 per person annually. In other words, the average American loses more money each year than almost anyone else in the world earns.
Money is like nitroglycerin: handling it is not morally wrong, but, especially if you do not know what you are doing, it is extremely risky. It seems as if everywhere you look, there is a warning label of some kind on toys, cigarettes, diet soft drinks, even air bags! Perhaps it would be a good idea to put a warning label on dollar bills, certificates of deposit, and credit cards. Perhaps nothing has been the ruin of more people, marriages, and friendships, than the failure to handle money properly.
You are either master over your money or a slave to it—there is no in between. As I walked through the rich grain fields of financial wisdom in Proverbs, I gleaned some keys to helping you to master your money—lessons you can pass on to your children that will be “worth their weight in gold.” Let me share just two with you…
Principle No. One: Being poor is a problem, but being rich isn’t the answer. The New Living Translation renders Proverbs 8 this way: The rich can pay a ransom, but the poor won’t even get threatened.
The poor man may get no mail, but the rich man may get “blackmail!” The good news is, that the rich are worth kidnapping. The bad news is, they are able to pay the ransom. For the poor, the bad news is, they are not worth kidnapping, but the good news is, they don’t have to worry about ransom. The principle is that money is not an end. It comes with its own set of problems. Pursuing riches may rid you of some challenges but it will also bring other challenges and it certainly will not bring you happiness in any eternal sense.
Principle Number Two: Remember the difference between “needy” and “greedy.” We have all heard, when it comes to cars, “speed kills.” When it comes to money, “greed kills.” So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners. (Proverbs 1:19) We Americans pledge allegiance to “One nation under God,” and then live as if we believe in “One nation under greed.”
A greedy man is just like the heroine addict. It takes a “hit” to satisfy him, but the effect soon wears off and he needs another “hit.” When John D. Rockefeller was the richest man in the world, he was asked by an employee, “Mr. Rockefeller, how much money is enough?” To which Rockefeller replied, “Just a little bit more, son, just a little bit more.” A Greek sage once said, “To whom a little is not enough, nothing is enough.”