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Walter on Money

December 12, 2004

Dear Paul,

I suppose we have already talked a little about money, when we considered why it is a person should work hard and make a living... but I think the subject of the Queen's paper is one that deserves a little more attention. Money is like food - you need it to live - but too much or too little of either can deliver a world of hurt. Remember I said how I likened my prayers after old Agur?

Proverbs 30:7 Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: 8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, "Who is the Lord?" or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Not too little and not too much - that is a wise man's prayer. And one we would all do well to make a regular part of our devotions.

Now, I suppose we ought to start with thinking about where our money should come from. What's clear in the New Testament and Old, is that the brunt of it ought to come from the sweat of our brow. 

Proverb 14:23   In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.

Proverbs 10:4  A slack hand causes poverty , but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

2 Thessalonians 3:10   If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

There's very little fast money in this world. The sluggard spends all day scheming how to get it and goes to bed hungry. Another man inherits a safe-full, and it's gone as fast as it appeared.

No, the Bible way to gaining your riches is through regular hard work over time. 

Proverbs 28:19  Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.

Proverbs 13:11   Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.

28:20  A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

28:22  A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him.

Whether he works 12 hours or 3, a man deserves to be paid at the end of the day and that is what we call his income . And most of us say, "Come in!" However, for many that income has an unfortunate outcome! It seems to me that one of the simplest lessons the simple never learn, is that you have to spend less than you earn. Cars don't run on fumes. Cows don't live on air. Yet, lots of folks try to live on less than either! No, a man or woman has to learn to always have a little left over at the end of the month.

Of course, we live in a day when folks tell us the opposite is true. "Just put it on your line of credit" and the like. Well, I don't need to tell you that Credit Card companies and Casinos have a lot in common - they are both run by folks who keep smiling and telling you that losing is winning! Pity that man who uses the one to fund the other!! I say his problem is not with who he listens to, but for what he desires and lusts after!

Proverbs 21:17   Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich. 

Jesus said, " No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." (Luke 16: 13)

Every son of Adam and daughter of Eve needs to work out in their own heart who it is they are going to love. Money is just a thing, really... not evil in and of itself. But it is death to the person who loves it.

Proverbs 23:1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food. Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings,
flying like an eagle toward heaven.

Money is like cotton candy - it tastes good but never satisfies. A man ought heed Solomon's warning: "A knife to your throat" before falling in love with money!! 

Some men love money so much they are willing to be wicked in order to get it. That wickedness may be fudging a number on a tax form or robbing a bank at gunpoint - I don't suppose there is a bit of difference between the two in the Lord's eyes. "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" (1 Tim 6). But, like the old King said:

Proverbs 10:2  Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death.

Proverbs 20:17   Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.

I've known lots of men with a driveway-full of stones in their mouth. Sure, they seem to have all that the world offers - but the wicked only earn "deceptive wages" (Pr 11:18 ) and they will not deliver when needed most! I once waited in line for two hours to see a new movie. Only, when I finally got to the theatre door, they turned me away! Seems they had sold too many tickets and mine was one of them. No matter how I pleaded, my ticket couldn't get me in! That's the problem with money, too.

Proverbs 11:4  Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

Proverbs 18:10   The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. 11  A rich man's wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his imagination. 

"The emperor has no clothes," as the saying goes. Lots of men feel and act powerful and fearless in life who will stand naked and helpless in death. If you gain more peace about your situation from your bank account than your bond to the Lord, Walter says, "Watch out!" Earthly treasures will run away, but heavenly ones eternal stay!

Proverbs 11:28   Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf. 

I've had more than three friends watch a lot of money fly away. Some were businessmen who went from millions to debt in a matter of hours. Some were from wealthy families who squandered the stash in a matter of months. Either way, they proved to old Walter that trusting in money is like leaving your baby with your pet tiger. Sure, he may not have done anything in the past to make you doubt him, but he's a beast and can turn in an instant! 

Money is like my morning porridge - it looks perfect in the bowl when your hungry after chores, but all you've got is a dirty pot when it's gone. There's a barn full of people in life who are staring at the pot and wondering where it all went. That's nothing to put your hope in!

Even if you die with millions in the bank, that's where it stays while you stand before the Lord. I listened to some sermons on Romans 2, and what's for certain is that no one will be bribing or buying their way through the judgment! No wonder Jesus said:

Luke 12:32   "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33  Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

Besides, having money in the bank brings with it its own set of troubles. I'm too old to have taken French in school, but I am guessing "entourage" must be the French word for "leeches." I see these rich athletes and rock stars on the news never going anywhere without their little group fawning and following after. Well, these poor fellows ought to mind the words of the King:

Proverbs 19:6  Many seek the favour of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.

Some of my wealthier friends have the regular trial of deciding who to help. Everybody figures some of that wealth ought to come to them - and that they would be quick to do likewise had they the same. A rich man has to say, "No" sometimes, and that may be harder than pulling stumps in a muddy field for some people. I say, leave the rich alone and let them trust the Lord for where their money ought to go. If a wealthy Christian hears by providence of some particular need, he'll be more than happy to help. (It might even help you to pray!)

Money will always buy companions, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Pr 18:24 ) and He won't be bought. When money leaves, so to do the leaches! So Solomon warns the rich who might be tempted to think that their money has nothing to do with their popularity: 

Proverbs 19:4  Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend.

Proverbs 19:7  All a poor man's brothers hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him!

Proverbs 14:20   The poor is disliked even by his neighbour, but the rich has many friends.

Not that a man ought to hate money. "It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich" (Pr 10:22 ). The church can use some money to do the will of God and so the Lord often blesses some folks with more than they need. The trick is what you do with it!

Proverbs 13:7  One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

Jesus told the story of a man who looked at all his great wealth as his own - for himself (Luke 16). He built bigger barns instead of a bigger treasure and died without hope of heaven. If the Lord prospers a man, it is more than likely so the man can take care of some of the Lord's needy ones.

Proverbs 11:24   One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. 25  Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

Proverbs 19:17   Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. 

Proverbs 28:27  Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.

Proverbs 21:13   Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered. 

Remember Paul's warnings to Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:17   As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18  They are to do good , to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19  thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 

I advise the rich, decide early-on how you are going to live. The leeches daughters will always be crying, "Give! Give!" (Pr 30:15) and a man has to have some defence against it. I know of a lawyer who makes more money than could fit in my silo, but lives in a tiny apartment, drives an older car and wears suits off the rack. He decided early on what his standard of living would be and everything past that he gives away. Well, did you know that this man just keeps making more and more money! Now, who is in charge of that? Why, the Lord, of course! Seems to me that the Lord is just directing what belongs to Him to that man since that man is faithful to give it to those who need it! 

Like I said, the rich man has a high calling and an extra burden. He needs to care for the poor and help those in debt and give to those in need. And once he helps one, you can bet his name will spread faster than dandelions amongst those looking for a way up. Now he has to figure who to help and when. That takes a truckload of godliness and discernment, so that a man better be wise to be rich. Not too many can handle lots of money. That's why old Walter says... "Better a little!" Yep, that's my motto and I'll stick by it! 

Proverbs 15:16   Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it. 17  Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.

Proverbs 16:8  Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.

Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.

I say a man ought to take a step back and ask what he wants to live his life for. Sure lots of folks are living for money... but are they happy? My god isn't my happiness, at least I pray not, but it strikes me that only the man who is not living for money is able to enjoy the money he actually gets - whether it be lots or little.

It was after he had lived a lot of life and made and spent a LOT of money, that Solomon wrote: 

Ecclesiastes 5: 10   He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11  When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 12  Sweet is the sleep of a labourer , whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

18  Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19  Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil--this is the gift of God. 20  For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.

Lots of folks are busy chasing money when they should be chasing integrity of character and peace with God. They might find the Lord blesses them with the former the more they gain the latter!

Proverbs 19:1 Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.

22  Better a poor man than a liar.

Proverbs 28:6  Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

Now, one other thing. Mr. Spurgeon said, "Sins and debts are always worse than we think." And I agree with him 100%. 

Do not lend what you're not willing to lose. Nothing puts a fence between friends like a debt not paid. I was anxious to get Mrs. Walter out for a date once and had nothing in the bank. I knew my pay was coming, but not for another week so I borrowed $20 from my friend. But did you know I forgot all about that loan - and after several months asked my pal why he seemed so cool and distant. He quietly reminded me of my debt and Old Walter felt 2 feet tall and 3 feet thick. I learned then, better to go without than go in debt.

Some smart person told me if you total up what everybody in Canada owes on a credit card and average it out per person, then every one of us owes more than we make in a year. There are 74 million credit cards in Canada - three for every Canadian over the age of 18. Well, all I can tell you is that there is one credit card in Walter's wallet that gets used very little and paid every month. Did you know nearly half of Canadians don't even know how much interest they pay a month on their credit! The same folks gripe for an hour when they pay 15% in government sales taxes - if they only knew they were paying twice that much on their credit cards!

If a man has trouble using too much plastic I hand him a pair of scissors. You don't give free cocaine to a drug addict so why give what feels like free money to a man in debt. There's always a way out of debt for a man or woman willing to work hard and live light. It may not be the most comfortable life, but they'll sleep sound with a good conscience at night.

16  How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. 

Used furniture, old clothes, fruits and vegetables are the way to get rid of debt. You may not be as good-looking or well-fashioned as the next lady, but it would shock you to know how little she really owns anyway. There's nothing so freeing as a debt paid. Just think of when you came to Christ and your most unpayable debt was taken away... how light and joyful you felt! Well, to some degree that's what you'll feel when the credit card says zero! Debt is a four-letter word and ought to be avoided like a sinkhole on the highway. Pay off that debt as fast as you can and never get in it again!

Now, I realize the lot of you live down there in the Big Smoke and just finding a place to live can be tricky. I've wondered for many years about whether a mortgage is a good thing or not. I've talked with some Christians who won't buy a home until they've saved all the money. As much as I admire that, it makes me think there won't be a lot of Christians left in the city if we make that law! I suppose there is some form of balance, where a man can take a loan, but one he is reasonably sure to be able to pay with the money he makes. 

I say "he" since too often young couples buy their homes based on what "they" make. Then little Johnny or Mary appears and they want to have mom stay in their nice home, but the house is too big (if you catch my meaning). No, I suggest that right from the start you learn to live off of Dad and whatever mom makes is gravy on your meat. That way, should there be any surprising providences, you're all set! I suppose what makes a house different than other kinds of debt is that most of the time you can sell it and pay off what you owe on it. But, even then, there is no guarantee and so a man best think carefully and pray thoughtfully before loading his shoulders with a big mortgage. 

Romans 13:8  Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

A person, who gets their money under control, might find it helps them in other areas of life too. Most of our over-spending is just giving way to our lusts and sinful pleasures... so spending less than you earn will help check those excesses. Not that a frugal man is a sinless man! A man can err just as severe on the other side by hording and lusting like Scrooge in the story. Better to be a man who chases hard after godliness in all areas.

When it comes to putting others into debt, I agree with Solomon:

Proverbs 17:18   One who lacks sense gives a pledge and puts up security in the presence of his neighbour.

I'd sooner give my neighbour a shovel than have him borrow mine. I'd rather make him a dinner than lend him the money to buy it. I'd rather have him stay under my roof than loan him my tent. Those in need are usually the worst borrowers - until a man learns to take care of himself he probably won't take care of your stuff. I once leant a great deal of money to a friend that I totally trusted. He was going to pay it off in a month! Well, over a year later I had most of it back again. He and I both would have been better off had I given him what I could've spared. 

And I suppose having a little to spare is a good plan.

Proverbs 13:22   A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.

If I can die with a little for my kids and grandkids, I will be a happy man. I once saw a flyer for a company that would help you to die poor - spending all your money in a content retirement so that your bank account and heart would expire at the same moment. Well, I never did figure how they could time those things so right without a needle or hammer, but never mind, because the goal was all wrong. Money is just a tool to live by, and if a little more might help my kids, than I am happy to leave it for them.

I say, learn to spend less than you earn and most of these things will take care of themselves. Then, once you have a little in the bank, be willing to give it away to whomever needs it if the Lord should lay that on your heart. Well, I wrote too much again - sorry. Have fun talking about all this together... I wish I could be with you! 

Your Brother,