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How We Make Money A Curse

September 19, 2012

The book of Proverbs is replete with instruction in how we are to use money. Money, like all of creation since the fall, has been perversely used by mankind. We look not to the creator, but the creation for happiness in life and when they happens…the results are miserable. Our children will let us down, our knees will fail one day, trees will fall down in tornadoes, and your car will break down.

The book of Proverbs offers an exceptionally countercultural way of looking at the world. In fact, when compared with other ancient Near East texts, the entire Old Testament is one long running commentary on being counter cultural in pursuit of the Lord. Yet today many of our practices and desires are anything but counter cultural, and money has perhaps the biggest stranglehold on all of us. That is where the book of Proverbs comes in. Ray Ortlund has called Proverbs, “…the grace of Christ beautifying our daily lives.” In speaking on money, Proverbs presents four areas where money can become a curse instead of a “beautifying agent.” Reflect on each of these and search the recesses of your heart for places where there are even traces of truth. I have found that I succumb to all four in varying degrees.

1. Money becomes about control. Proverbs 11:26 says “The people curse him who holds back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.” Grain was a staple of the diet of the ancient world. To withhold it was to manipulate people at a source of greatest need. Doing so drove up the price to the benefit of the sellers and hurt many in the process. Bruce Waltke articulates it this way, “The righteous are willing to disadvantage themselves to the advantage of the community; the wicked are willing to disadvantage the community to the advantage of themselves.” If you have resources above and beyond your own needs, how are you being a blessing to others? Are you engaged in business practices that may disadvantage those who are already in lowly positions to the benefit of yourself?

2. Money becomes about conflict. Proverbs 28:25 says. “A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.” The word “greedy” here literally means “wide of appetite.” The greedy person is perpetually unsatisfied with what they have been given and always crave more, even to the point of damaging relationships with others. Jesus, on the other hand, always sought the benefit of another and gave himself freely to that end.

3. Money becomes about confusion. Proverbs 11:18 says, “The wicked earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.” This again points to the central theme of how money becomes a curse…we become self-absorbed in the pursuit of it. When was the last time you cheated on your taxes or called something a “business expense” that really wasn’t. Often deceptive wages are gained quickly, but Proverbs 13:11 says that, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Not only are deceptive wages a curse, but they are also unwise.

4. Money becomes about corruption. Proverbs 20:23 says, “Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord, and false scales are not good.” “Abomination” is a word reserved for the worst of offenses in the Old Testament. Therefore, corruptive gain of money is one the worst offenses to the Lord. Are you cheating anyone out of money or unfairly charging for services? Are you underpaying people to your advantage? All these things are seen as detestable in the sight of the Lord.

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