Some Causes of Poverty

Pastor Randy Tewell | September 16, 2018

We are living in a time of great economic growth. Unemployment is very low, and salaries are beginning to rise. More people traveled this summer than any other time in the last 20 years because gas is still relatively low, and people have more income at their disposal. Investments are paying off, home values are on the rise, and most people are benefitting financially. I say most people because the truth is no matter how well the economy does, some people will never seem to enjoy the benefits of it. Solomon explains to us in Proverbs why some people will always struggle financially.

I admire Solomon teaching his children about finances because it’s something we don’t do well enough. We all want our kids to do well financially, but none of us are in the position to just hand it to them. We can, however, do something even better for their future, and that is teaching them about money. Mark Twain said, “If you give a man a fish, you’ll feed him for a day, but if you teach a man how to fish, he’ll feed himself for a lifetime.” Too many are guilty of sending their children into the world without educating them in this area, and when we fail to teach them what God has to say, the world steps right in to teach them. The first thing they’ll do is go into debt at age 18, which hinders them the rest of their life. Teach your children while they’re young the blessings that come from tithing and being generous. Teach them how to save and how to budget and how to plan ahead. Teach them how to avoid debt. Our goal has been for our children to have a better head start than we did because they have learned some things about finances and can avoid common pitfalls many of their peers will hit.

Solomon taught his children how to avoid poverty, and if you don’t know where to start, following his outline is a pretty good place. Don’t feel inadequate to teach on this subject to your children. In my experience, many of our older people have avoided debt, have homes that are paid off, tithe and support their church, and may not live in luxury, but certainly have a conformable life even in retirement. On the other hand, the next generation has become a whole other story by piling up debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and becoming very limited and restricted in what they can do because of their financial distress. So, any teaching is better than what we are doing now. What did Solomon teach his children about their finances?

1. He began teaching them to have a strong work ethic.

In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.
Proverbs 14:23

Solomon said working hard is the foundation for good financial health. We must teach our children how to work. It was easier when we lived in the country; there were chores for all to do. Some feel guilty for making their children work, but we should feel guilty if we just let them sit around playing video games. By doing that, we’re sending them out into life totally unprepared. Notice something below in the passage of the prodigal son. He felt a sense of entitlement, he began his downward spiral demanding, “Give me mine inheritance.”

And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
Luke 15:12

After he wasted everything because he hadn’t valued what he had been given and hit the bottom, his attitude changed. When he came back he was willing to earn his keep and work.

And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
Luke 15:19

2. He warned them of the opposite side of the coin, being lazy and procrastinating.

That’s a deadly combination, but unfortunately, they usually seem to hang around together. Solomon reminded his kids of the ant.

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.
Proverbs 6:6-11

He showed them the ant had initiative, took responsibility, planned ahead, and didn’t sleep through its opportunities. He warned them again about loving sleep. We ought to sleep to live, not live to sleep. Sleep should refresh us and reenergize us, so we can go back to work.

Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.
Proverbs 20:13

Then, he took them by the farm of a lazy man and gave them an object lesson.

I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;
And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.
Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.
Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.
Proverbs 24:30-34

In verse 31, the vines had grown up and the stone walls were broken down. The lesson was pointing out that financial trouble doesn’t come overnight. This farm was in disrepair from years of neglect. We get into financial trouble slowly as the noose of debt and bad decisions tightens around us. You didn’t get in financial trouble overnight, and you won’t get out overnight. It’s harder to get out than it was to get in, and it’s also a lot less enjoyable. You’ll have to cut back and do without to get out of debt, and getting out of debt won’t come without sacrifice. This is why it’s so much better for our children to never get into financial trouble in the first place because we have taught them these principles.

3. Solomon taught them of the danger of loving pleasure.

He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.
Proverbs 21:17

In the garden of Eden, God told man we would earn our bread by the sweat of our brow. God’s plan is for man to work. We are becoming a civilization that only wants to play and enjoy the extravagances of life. God wants us to have relaxation, but it comes as a reward and benefit of our work. Solomon warned of loving pleasure, and Paul warned of some who live for pleasure.

But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
1 Timothy 5:6

Too often, financial distress comes by not seeking advice. We make too many financial decisions emotionally, based purely on what we want or what someone else has that we think we should. Healthy finances isn’t an emotional thing. Healthy finances is budgeting our money, living within our means, and having faith. God expects us to make good financial decisions.

Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.
Proverbs 13:18

He expects us to learn what we don’t know. Quit using ignorance as an excuse. Get some good financial advice, and get some help setting up a budget. Read good books on the subject of personal finances. Often times, there are families you know well who trust the Lord, do well financially, and can help you learn.

4. He warned his kids of unhealthy habits and entanglements.

Sinful habits can be a huge drain on the finances. Even habits that aren’t necessarily sinful, may not be wise financially.

Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh:
For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
Proverbs 23:20-21

Unhealthy habits and addictions always cost more than the actual cost of the product or experience. An addiction to liquor, drugs, or cigarettes will cost more than just the product itself as it takes a toll on a family, a person’s health, a budget, and a person’s decision making. It can hurt us when we don’t make it to work or when it increases our healthcare costs. Becoming addicted to anything is expensive.

Let’s make it a goal to not only work on our own financial habits and practices, but to teach our children how to live financially sound by following these principles found in God’s Word.