Saturday, July 13, 2013

God teaches us ways to avoid self inflicted poverty

The purpose of this devotion is to avoid some sources of self-inflicted poverty. But this teaching does not suggest that everyone that is poor has brought it upon themselves. There are many factors that can lead to poverty that could be out of and individual's control. Here are just a few examples: layoffs, injuries, and living in a country that has an oppressive government. 

Lets start our devotion in Proverbs chapter 6. In verses 1-5 God is trying to protect His children from self-inflicted poverty. He steers them away from the dangers of  becoming surety for a stranger / neighbor. We are instructed that we should not guarantee another persons debt. One example would be to co-sign for a stranger / neighbors car loan. If that person can no longer make their payments then the bank will come after you and demand payment. We, and our families with us, can be brought to financial ruin through such practices. But because God loves us He steers us away from this form of self-inflicted poverty. 

Continuing in chapter 6 we will find another source of poverty. Verses 6-11 show that being lazy and loving sleep will cause poverty to overtake you. 

Proverbs 6:9-11
How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”—
11 Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man.
The sluggard is lazy and does not want to work. But even if circumstances force him to work he proves to be a thorn in his employer's side and runs the risk of being fired. He can be late or even miss work due to his unwillingness to get out of bed. And even once he arrives at work he does his work half-heartedly. And because he lacks the self-motivation, which is one characteristic of the diligent, he ends up requiring extra supervision. The lazy one is a grief to his employer and inevitably he will lose his job . So through either unwillingness to get a job, or being fired due to poor work performance, the sluggard lacks earning power and poverty overtakes him. 

Proverbs 10:4
Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
Proverbs 20:13
13 Do not love sleep, or you will become poor;
Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food.

In Proverbs 6:6-8 the sluggard is asked to observe the work habits of the ant. The ant is diligent and needs no supervision. The ant thinks past the need of the moment. It continues to work because it anticipates needs in the future and stores up for that future lack.

Proverbs 6:6-8
Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
Another source of poverty is being pleasure centered

Proverbs 21:17
17 He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; 
He who loves wine and oil will not become rich.

In the first half of verse 17 we see someone who begins with wealth and then loses it by being pleasure centered. This person could have received wealth through an inheritance and then squandered it through the pursuit of pleasure. A perfect example of a person who is pleasure centered and dwindles from a wealthy state to a poor state  is the Prodigal Son. That passage is found in Luke 15:11-32. Also, in the second half of Proverbs 21:17 (above)  we see the effect of being pleasure centered from a different perspective. The person who lacks riches is prevented from rising to a wealthy status due to a focus on pleasure.

A few other verses to consider. 

Proverbs 23:21

21 For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,

And drowsiness will clothe one with rags.

Proverbs 28:19

19 He who tills his land will have plenty of food,But he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty.
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