Read for This Week’s Study: Ps. 37:21; Matt. 4:3–10; Matt. 6:33; Deut. 28:12; Prov. 13:11; Prov. 21:5; 2 Cor. 4:18.
Memory Text: “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:7, 8, NIV).
The lesson this week is quite interesting as it is a journey through a goodly number of biblical passages that talk about the use – and misuse – of money. In particular, there are some pithy proverbs that perhaps are not well known.
One such proverb is the one found in Psalm 37:21 which, as a single verse, sums up the general flow of this lesson – “21 The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.” (NIV)
Let’s talk about the first part of the text. It has to do with borrowing, something that is very much a part of modern society. Perhaps in times past, it was difficult to borrow money, but not so today. The opportunities, yea the invitations, to borrow money are legion. Let’s think about the dynamic that surrounds borrowing:
- The tendency to borrow more than one can afford is a big issue. Borrowed money can easily cause a person to live beyond their means and so, over time, bring financial ruin on themselves.
- Borrowing money puts you in debt to someone else who can then work to control the flow of your life. It has been said that debt leverages the future which, to us is unknown.
- A significant percentage of your income automatically goes to the lender. Is it worth giving up 5-25% of your income for whatever it is that you borrowed money for?
- Notice the sage observation in Proverbs 22:7 –“The wealthy rule over the poor; a borrower is a slave to a lender.” (CEB)
- Borrowed money seems to be far more easily spent than earned.
- Borrowing money can frustrate a very important discipline in life, that of delaying gratification. A lot of activity, including spending activity, is driven by impulse. We see something and want it now. But is having it now a good thing when the big picture is brought to mind? One example of the effects of momentary impulse shared in the lesson is the story Esau trading his birthright for a pot of lentils (Genesis 25:34). What happens in a moment might not be reversed even with much time and effort.
- Another text that fits this discussion is Proverbs 21:5 – “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” (NIV)
- What are some of the joys and benefits that come from not owing money?
While there are injunctions in the Bible warning against the troubles that come from incurring debt, there is no indication that debt is to be totally avoided. The admonitions are more in the form of warnings about the adversities that easily come when debt is taken on. So, it is fair to ask under what circumstances it might be necessary to take on debt. Can you name some?
Another line of thought to engage here is that of living simply. Create a list of the benefits that would come from a simple lifestyle vs. a very complex one. What role might borrowing play in the development of a very complicated way of living?
The other side of debt is investment, making money grow by putting it to work. The parable of the owner who left “talents” with his servants is relevant here, though, sadly, we do not learn how the faithful stewards invested their money to make it grow. We learn only of the lazy man who buried his resources, apparently in the ground.
There is a very interesting little observation found in Proverbs 6:6-8. Of all things, it is about the ants. What do you learn from reading and pondering the life of ants?
There is also some very good advice given by the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Rome. While his advice is about more than money, the advice applies to money, too – “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” Romans 13:7,8 (NIV).
Perhaps a final selection of thought should be toward eternal things. Believers do not live here on earth only for themselves. They are to live with a view to eternal things, bringing to mind any eternal implications that might be produced by their actions. Below are some verses that serve as guides and reminders of this:
- Matthew 6:33 – “33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (NIV)
- 2 Corinthians 4:18 “18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV)
- Deuteronomy 28:12 – “12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.” (NIV)
- Proverbs 13:11 – 11 Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow. (NIV)