Proverbs are not absolute rules for life but rather they are general principles that usually lead to a blessed and happy life.Financial Management Principles from Proverbs
Sample Discussion Questions
- Live a Righteous Life.
Wisdom teaches that God watches over those who are righteous and who walk before him in integrity (Prov.13:25; 22:4; 10:22). This does not mean that the righteous will never experience poverty, adversity or suffering (e.g. Job). Life may appear to be unfair at times, especially when righteous people are poor and suffering while ungodly people are rich and blessed. However, in the long run, the righteous will be blessed and the ungodly will be punished. Character lasts forever while wealth is transient and there is coming a day of judgement where all wrongs will be righted (Prov.11:4; 13:22; 23:4-5). There are many more important things than wealth, such as wisdom, knowledge, honour, a good name, and the fear of the Lord (Prov.3:13-16; 8:10-11, 18-21; 16:16-17; 22:1-2). Even a little with these things is better than wealth without them (Prov.15:16-17; 16:8; 17:1; 19:1, 22; 28:6). Unfortunately, our contemporary culture often sees being well off financially as more important than living a godly life. Success is determined more by what a person has than who they are. Many people assess their self-worth by their net-worth. Today’s heroes are often the rich and famous. However, as Jesus once said, “… one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Lk.12:15). Wealth and possessions are only temporal (Prov.11:28).
- Work Diligently.
Proverbs praises diligent hard work. Hard work leads to God’s blessing. Diligence brings wealth and profit, as well as personal satisfaction and promotion (Prov.10:4; 13:4; 14:23). Proverbs also condemns and ridicules laziness. Slothfulness frequently results in poverty and scarcity, slavery and bondage, and it never satisfies. Proverbs rebukes the lazy person, often referred to as the “lazybones” (Prov.6:6-11; 20:4; 21:25-26; 24:30-34; 26:14). From the beginning, human work is the God-ordained means by which a person can generate the income necessary to live their life (see Gen. 2:5, 15; Ex.20:9-11). God has given each individual person skills and abilities so that they can use them to serve others in exchange for income (Deut.8:17-18). Christians today should work diligently as unto the Lord, doing their very best to the glory of God (Col.3:23-24). They should develop their skills and abilities, taking responsibility for their own growth and development so that they maximise their God-given potential. Work done well and with a good attitude is rewarded and often leads to promotion (Prov.22:19). When a believer excels in their work, God is honoured. However, work holism and striving to be rich should be avoided (see Prov.23:4-5).
- Avoid Trying to Get Rich Quickly.
Wisdom teaches avoidance of the pursuit of any activity that promises quick riches (Prov.12:11; 28:20-22; 20:21; 13:11). Wisdom seeks to help a person grow in maturity as their income increases. People who want something for nothing don’t always develop the character necessary to handle it wisely. This can be observed by considering what happens to a person after they win a lot of money through gambling. Usually within a few years, they are back to where they were before. Getting rich quickly seems to be diametrically opposed to God’s financial plan as he connects the acquisition of money to hard work. As they work diligently, their income grows and they can handle it because they’re growing in character and maturity. There are a plethora of schemes today that promise a quick dollar, yet often result in disappointment and financial loss. Believers would do well to exercise wisdom and caution in all their financial dealings and seek to generate income through hard work and wise investments not through get rich quick pursuits.
- Say “No” to Debt.
Proverbs has much to say about avoiding debt. Debt puts a person in bondage and enslaves a person to their creditor (Prov.22:7). Advertising endeavours to make people unhappy with what they have now so that they buy something new or better. This often leads to impulse buying or the purchase of things that are not really needed. Society encourages people to go into debt and tries to make it as easy as possible. Debt can put a person under great pressure, which can destroy their peace and their joy. All debt is to be frowned upon except debt for an appreciating asset (such as a mortgage for a home or a start up loan for a good business opportunity). A person is in trouble when they’re spending more money than they are earning. Getting out of debt may require obtaining financial advice, forming a budget, and making some lifestyle changes.
- Say “Yes” to Savings.
Wisdom says to prepare for the future by establishing a savings and investment plan (Prov.21:10). Only a fool spends all that they have earned. Saving is making provision for tomorrow and is a mark of wisdom. Savings can create freedom, reduce pressure, increase joy, be a powerful witness and enable giving. Becoming a saver requires making a decision to do so, creating a savings plan and then having the discipline to save consistently. Wisdom advises being a steady plodder when it comes to investing (Prov.21:5). If a person spends less than they earn, then saves and invests the difference over a long period of time then their wealth will grow. Consistency over the long haul is the key not just quick bursts of enthusiasm. Financial growth takes time and continued effort. If a person is faithful with what they have now, God promises to give them more.
- Be a Generous Giver.
Wisdom teaches the importance of being a generous giver both to God’s work and to people in need (Prov.3:9-10). Generous giving is the key to further financial blessing not the result of it (Prov.11:24-25; 22:9). Wisdom teaches a person not to wait until they have a lot of money to start giving, but to give now of what they already have. Wisdom also teaches that it is right and proper to give to the poor and the needy (Prov.14:21; 19:17; 21:13; 28:27; 29:7; 31:20).
These financial principles are very much interrelated. When a person is in debt and has no savings, they miss giving opportunities. When they are moved with compassion to help needy people, they are not able to do it. The Good Samaritan had resources to help a needy person (Lk.10:25-37). Applause should be given not just to his compassion but also to his financial management, which caused him to have discretionary funds to meet the need at hand and more.
God wants his people to have money, but he doesn’t want money to have them. Riches can be a threat to a person’s relationship with God. Money is not the problem. It is the attitude towards it. Money is essential for survival and the expansion of God’s kingdom. God is very interested in money matters. It’s important to Him. He wants to bless individuals and his church too. It depends on a person’s motives, priorities and values.
- Discuss society’s general view of wealth and poverty.
- What do you think are some common stereotypes about ‘rich’ people and ‘poor’ people?
- What lessons have you learned about money – through the advice of others or through your life experience? Share successes and failures.
- Hard work can be a means to generate wealth. When does work become obsessive?
- In a culture that encourages debt, how can we avoid debt becoming destructive?
- Share what you have learned about investing. Discuss some good and bad investments.
- Share your experience with giving and generosity. What have you discovered?
- How can we help the ‘poor’ more effectively?