Proverbial Financial Planning

I’ve been reading through the book of Proverbs for many years now. It’s 31 chapters easily coincide with most months number of days. Of course, I don’t read one every day, so the schedule gets messed up! But, if you’ve never read the book of Proverbs I encourage you to take a month, and do so, reading one chapter per day. You will be blessed! proverbs are short, pithy, wise sayings mostly from the pen of the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon. Proverbs is a unique book in that the verses we find there are not necessarily promises, they are observations on how life generally works. In other words, this is the way life goes… mostly. For example “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older he will not depart from it” we find that in 22:6. And yet we all know parents who did a wonderful job raising children only to experience the heartbreak of their walking away from God and heading in the opposite direction. So the proverb is not wrong… it’s just that life doesn’t always go according to plan. So the teacher is saying it’s good to train your child to love the Lord because usually that will help them on the road to blossoming into a follower of Christ!

There are so many great proverbs that deal with how we are to handle, view, and think about our money. One reminds us that it’s really not our money at all, it can easily “sprout wings “ (23:5) and fly away. The overall theme of the book of Proverbs is to remind us that it is wisdom we should run after, and it is a wisdom begins with our Lord “ the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (1:7; 9:10).

Listen to these nuggets of wisdom:
“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops” (3:9)
“Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf” (11:28)
“The rich and poor have this in common: the Lord is the Maker of them all. (22:2)
“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done” (19:17)
“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor “ (22:9)
“Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil “ (15:16)
“Riches won’t help on the day of judgement, but right living can save you from death “ (11:4)
I've entitled this “Proverbial Financial Planning." And as you can see, the Book of Proverbs says very little about financial planning. However, it says volumes about the wise use of our money, and what’s most important. What proverbs doesn’t say, oddly enough, is that money is important. It does speak of a good work ethic, of the inherent dangers of being lazy, about caring for the poor, and about the uncertain nature of riches. What the book focuses on mainly, is, perspective… Having a heavenly perspective… One that does not operate out of greed, or selfishness, and does not look to hoard more and more for ourselves. Money is a wonderful tool to use for good, but it makes a horrible master. And therein lies the rub. The very real danger is that money makes our decisions, captures our attention, and pushes our trust in the Lord to the periphery. Jesus put it succinctly “no one can serve two masters, you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

You may read this, and be disappointed… I thought Pastor Pete was going to give me some sound investing advice. Sorry for that, but that’s just not my wheelhouse. However, the clear, powerful, and obvious message of Proverbs is to seek the Lord with everything we have, and as we do that, we find joy whether we have this worlds riches or not. And we learn that the best use of our money involves blessing others and using it as the Lord directs. The way we best plan is to have a healthy “fear of the Lord” and to not let money capture our hearts. Or as Proverbs 4:23 puts it : ”above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Pete Nelson