Seeking Financial Wisdom

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Many Christians tend not to think of their work, their business, their money, as being under the specific authority of God. We acknowledge that He owns it all, in a general way, but when it comes to money we frequently assume He is some kind of an absentee landlord, who doesn’t much mind what we do with our business and money on a day-to-day basis. The only thing we need to do in order to discover that it is false is say it out loud.

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). When it comes to money, watch your heart — your heart is the governor of all aspects of your business and your finances. The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge in this area too. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7).

Christians are called to serve God as they earn their bread, and do it the way He says. “Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Prov. 24:3-4). Fill your house with pleasant things, and do it the way God instructs.

Scripture teaches in various places that the power to gain wealth is a gift from God, and so we of course must not abuse it. “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it” (Prov. 10:22). The one who says he can get on quite well without God’s blessing is deceiving himself. “He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage” (Prov. 11:28). “In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but in the revenue of the wicked is trouble” (Prov. 15:6). “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life” (Prov. 22:4).

We have a duty to pursue the blessing of God in our financial affairs. This can be done in a wooden, name-it, claim-it, kind of way, which treats the Almighty God as though He were a vending machine. The duty can be rejected entirely for the sake a false piety, as though God did not want us to enjoy blessings from Him. However, the most common error is to pursue the blessing of wealth on our own terms, and in our own name. This is an all-American way of sinning. But if we accept the duty to pursue the blessing of God’s affluence, how are we to do so?

The first thing is to seek the blessing of God in the tithe. “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Prov. 3:9-10). If God didn’t want us to believe such promises, then why did He give us so many of them? This verse does have the disadvantage of being from the Old Testament, but still . . . Many Christians assume that in the New Covenant we have somehow been freed up to become ingrates. But God loves to bless those who love to bless. We do not give to Him in order to get. We give to get in order to give again.

Secondly, we should seek the blessing of God in our pursuit of wisdom. “Riches and honor are with me, enduring riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver. I traverse the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice, that I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, that I may fill their treasuries” (Prov. 8:18-21). Wisdom personified is speaking in this chapter, and her presence is a great financial blessing. When someone undertakes to make a living, when someone takes up a vocation, the first creaturely thing to do is not to get money. It is to get wisdom. Do you know what you are doing, and why? Do you know how God would have you pursue Wisdom is not evidenced so much in where you work, but in how you work? Wisdom consists of more than knowing; it consists of knowing what to do with your knowledge. Seek for it as though it were gold.

The third way is to seek the blessing of God in your generosity, extending well beyond the tithe. “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself. The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it” (Prov. 11:24-26). John Bunyan’s comment is appropriate here — “there was a man, some thought him mad, the more he gave, the more he had.” God not only blesses when we give to Him; He blesses when we give to the poor. “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor” (Prov. 22:9). “He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses” (Prov. 28:27). “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given” (Prov. 19:17).

And last, seek the blessing of God in your household. Do not begin by seeking God’s blessing for your household; seek for that blessing in your household. “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (Prov. 19:14). In no small measure, the Lord establishes a house, or not, through the woman He places in it. “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain” (Prov. 31:10-11). For men who understand it, her contribution must never be unacknowledged. “Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates” (Prov. 31:31).

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