Recent research by T. Rowe Price reveals that parents who are “trying to keep up with the Joneses” are more reluctant to talk to their kids about money, and 40% of parents are uncomfortable having money conversations with their children. In the ancient book on wisdom, the book of Proverbs, we see that the wisdom writer does not avoid money conversations with his son. The book of Proverbs does not shy away from talking about money because money is a part of our lives, and God cares for all the details of our lives. Here are ten wise and important lessons we learn about money from the book of Proverbs.
1. Riches are fleeting.
Worldly riches are fleeting, sometimes in this life but always in light of eternity.
Don’t wear yourself out to get rich;
because you know better, stop!
As soon as your eyes fly to it, it disappears,
for it makes wings for itself
and flies like an eagle to the sky.
2. Neither too much or too little is best.
Research continually reveals that happiness “levels off” after a certain income threshold and that there is a diminishing happiness return as wealth increases.
Keep falsehood and deceitful words far from me.
Give me neither poverty nor wealth;
feed me with the food I need.
Otherwise, I might have too much
and deny you, saying, “Who is the Lord?”
or I might have nothing and steal,
profaning the name of my God.
3. Wisdom and work are gifts too.
If you are going to increase wealth, it is going to come to you through wisdom and through work. And wisdom and work ethic are gifts from God.
The crown of the wise is their wealth,
but the foolishness of fools produces foolishness.
Idle hands make one poor,
but diligent hands bring riches.
4. The car and the clothes do not tell the whole story.
The book of Proverbs calls out that there are some fakers, people who pretend one way or another.
One person pretends to be rich but has nothing;
another pretends to be poor but has abundant wealth.
5. More money means both more problems and more opportunities.
Money gives you more opportunities to bless others and more access to opportunities. Yet at the same time, it can bring more problems into your life. Wealth can serve as a ransom for your life if you have it, but if you don’t have it you probably won’t be kidnapped.
Riches are a ransom for a person’s life,
but a poor person hears no threat.
6. Be thoughtful about debt.
There are people who use debt to build businesses and to invest in appreciating assets, but as you read the Proverbs you see that debt is not cast in a positive light, that it something you should approach carefully.
The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is a slave to the lender.
7. Save like the ant.
I had an Old Testament professor who said that one of the most humbling things about the book of Proverbs is that we are told to learn from the animal kingdom, even to learn from ants. The ant does not consume everything he collects.
Go to the ant, you slacker!
Observe its ways and become wise.
Without leader, administrator, or ruler,
it prepares its provisions in summer;
it gathers its food during harvest.
8. Honor the Lord first.
While common wisdom would say one should spend first, then save, and then give, our upside-down Kingdom teaches us to give first, then save, and then spend.
Honor the Lord with your possessions
and with the first produce of your entire harvest;
then your barns will be completely filled,
and your vats will overflow with new wine.
9. Generosity is how we are enriched.
True enrichment is not in getting but in giving, not in hoarding but in generosity.
A generous person will be enriched,
and the one who gives a drink of water
will receive water.
10. The righteous are filled; the wicked never are.
The Lord will not let the righteous go hungry,
but he denies the wicked what they crave.
Wealth is not what ultimately satisfies us. Jesus is. If we belong to Him, we are righteous because of Him, and He will never let us go hungry. Those without Jesus are not satisfied by all the things, even the good things, they pursue because only Jesus can quench the cravings of our souls.