Hope for your financial life and beyond

Does Poverty Itself Destroy the Poor?

Does your worldview begin with blaming others?

In the first phrases of Proverbs 10:15 and Proverbs 18:11, we see that Solomon describes the rich man’s wealth as his strong city. Although wealth cannot protect us from evil, sicknesses, or other life emergencies, it can provide our life with some level of security and stability. It lessens our emotional anxiety, knowing we have enough resources to pay for things. It helps us manage through unexpected and expensive life events. We can also use wealth to produce more and, in the process, benefit others along the way as we give.

In the concluding phrase of Proverbs 10:15 Solomon offers a contrast to the strong city analogy when he says, “…the destruction of the poor is their poverty.” I find this interesting because Solomon does not say that a series of unfortunate events happened in these peoples’ lives and those events are what destroyed them (or made them poor). The emphasis here seems to actually read that poverty itself is what causes their destruction. Interesting. What is he referring to here? What destructive impact would an impoverished financial state have on a person’s life?

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Wealth Is Like A Strong City

Some proverbs just pop with imagery and for me this one brought back memories of the many hours of sleep I lost playing SimCity. I loved building those cities, although I never quite took the time to really understood what the whole point of the game was. I mean, once your map was full and you were connected to all of the side cites, what was supposed to happen next? Were you just supposed to make it stronger, better and more futuristic? Was there ever an endpoint to the game? Oh well, I digress…but I want to play it again right now.

These proverbs also caught my attention because Solomon repeated the same phrase twice in different parts of his book. So if the wisest man who ever lived repeated something twice, it probably requires some extra special attention. [Read more…]

A Giving Spirit Is the Path to Friendship

I love the book of Proverbs. One reason is because Solomon filled it with so many one-liners. (I read a post once on Jon Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like blog how he describes Proverbs as the original Twitter. That’s pretty cool.) Most of the one-liners are fairly easy to digest and interpret…pretty straightforward. But once in a while, you are not exactly sure what he is trying to say. Or maybe he is trying to say multiple things in one tweet. I think that may have been the case in Proverbs 19:6 when he says,

“Many entreat the favor of the nobility, and every man is a friend to one who gives gifts.”

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“Hey Jesus…You Hungry?”

What if you could have anything you ever wanted? What if you could click your fingers and have your needs satisfied, your wants realized and your desires fulfilled? This would be your very own genie-in-a-bottle scenario without the three-wish restriction.

This sounds really enticing, to have everything your heart desires, whenever you want it. Think about it…food…fame…love…power…riches…peace. From your most basic needs to your most extravagant, nothing would be beyond your reach. And the best part is, you could provide that all by yourself just by wishing it to happen.

All right…pinch yourself…dreamtime is over. Of course, this is not reality for us. It will never happen. But there was one man in history that had the ability to make this happen. Thank God he chose not to.

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All That Glitters Is Not Gold

You can see it in his eyes. The passion…the desire…the intense hunger to possess the golden treasure. The moment of a lifetime has finally come. All the tests have been passed and now the reward is within his grasp. Nothing can stop him now.

Accept maybe the consequences that await from lifting that little golden head off its intended resting place. You just knew that little bag of sand was not going to work.

In the next few moments, Indiana Jones would face a collapsing cave roof, poison darts, spears thrust from the cave walls (which did skewer his traveling companion), a giant rolling boulder, natives with spears and more blow darts before he barely escapes with his life. The worst part is he didn’t even get to keep the treasure, having to turn it over to his treasure-seeking arch rival. Sure does seem like something bad happens when we try to attain something that we are not supposed to have.

Ever heard it said that the eyes are the window to the soul?

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Surety: How to Get Out of a Cosigned Loan

The idea of becoming surety for a stranger, friend or family member has not been spoken highly of in the Bible. We have been warned about the potential dangers and risks involved in doing so. Despite these warnings, there will still be some people who think their situation is unique and choose to vouch for the debt obligation of someone else by cosigning for them. It is unfortunate that they would ignore this wisdom and put themselves at risk for financial and emotional harm.

So what do you do if you become surety for someone? Is there a way out if you regret your decision? Well again we turn to the wisest man who ever lived.

Deliver Yourself From a Cosigned Loan

In Proverbs 6:1-5, Solomon addresses this situation by saying,

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Surety: The Potential Costs of Cosigning a Loan

Any good professional financial planner would tell you their primary goal is to create financial security for their clients. They would organize your investments in such a way as to produce that desired outcome. They would also counsel you the best path to establishing financial security is to engage in wise personal behaviors. In other words, don’t do anything in the present to damage your financial picture and thus jeopardize a secure future.

The fact of the matter is, when you become surety (going into debt, cosigning) for another, it puts you at risk in the present. It is the risk you take that could have devastating affects on your long-term financial picture.

Words from Solomon on Surety

Solomon about surety often and he clearly did not think it a wise financial move.

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Surety: Do You Really Want to Cosign That Loan?

There is a curious money word in the Bible – found mostly in Proverbs – that needs some defining. It’s the word “surety.” Surety refers to the act (or promise) of a person to take on or assume the responsibility for the debt obligation of someone else if that person cannot repay their loan. In essence, you become the guarantor of the loan by being willing to provide this service.

This type of arrangement is most common when the lender of money has a question or some doubt the borrower may be able to repay the loan. So they will require a third party (you the guarantor) to step forward and legally enter into the borrowing contract. The lender does this to reduce their risk and, in some cases, this may actually lower the interest that is charged to the borrower.

An Example of Surety

So, for example, your son wants to buy a $8,000 car.

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All Work and No Play: The Importance of Rest

all work and no playPlease don’t fear…I am not writing from a snowed in mountain resort lodge. I have to admit that, until recently, I assumed the “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” proverb came from that Jack Nicholson thriller The Shining.

(Disclaimer: if you are reading this and under the age of 30 you shouldn’t go watch the movie to which I refer. And maybe if you are over 30, you shouldn’t watch either.)

Turns out the phrase “all work and no play” was originally published in Proverbs in English, Italian, French and Spanish (1659) and is attributed to a writer by the name of James Howell. I think this one turned out to be his most popular proverb. Can you name another one?

Of course the warning of this proverb seems clear enough…that if you don’t release yourself from the pressures of work from time to time you will become dull, boring, uninteresting, and unexciting. You will also probably find yourself completely bored with your life over time, as work becomes your sole focus day in and day out. No time for hobbies, family, friends, exercise, watching sports, reading, or just plain vegging.  That doesn’t sound like much fun to me.

All Work and No Play: Rest vs. Work Balance

I think maybe God knew a thing or two about this and tried to warn us. In the Bible Exodus 23:12 says:

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Living Life With An Open Hand (Part II): How to Properly Control Money

In the post Giving to the Needy, we saw how God wants us to relate to those who may be less fortunate. We saw from Deuteronomy 15:7-10 that God commands we give to them. Our hearts should be sensitive to their need and we should give freely, generously and cheerfully.

The main point of these verses is that in our relationship with the poor we should not forget to give to them. But I can’t help but feel there is something deeper here that speaks to an internal attitude that has the potential to cripple our ability to truly prosper and be blessed. It’s found in the phrase “open your hand.”

I have a little exercise for you.

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Living Life With an Open Hand (Part I): Giving to the Needy

We live in a socioeconomic divided world. There are the “haves”, the “have-nots” and the “have-in-betweens.” Your status, in regards to wealth, can determine how much influence you have, how much access you have to important people, and how many things you can buy for yourself. It is a measure of your success, power and importance. You are somebody if you have money, and you are nobody if you have none. At least that is how most of the world sees it.

So we have this financial asset disparity present in our world, yet we all, rich and poor alike, have to share the same space. We only have one earth. With that being the case, unless NASA (or Sir Richard Branson) decides to start a colony on the moon where only the rich will be able to afford the space ride, we are stuck with one another. That means we will have to figure out how to coexist peaceably, figure out how to treat one another, and figure out what our responsibilities are to those who have more or less than we do. And we already have seen how hard relationships can be. 

The Bible’s Take on Giving to the Needy

The Bible weighs in often on how the rich should treat the poor. Perhaps no verse better sums it up than Deuteronomy 15:7-10 which reads:

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