Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Wisdom for your wallet

The financially wise avoid debt. Proverbs warns, “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is the lender’s slave” (22:7).


Or, as the Seven Dwarfs might sing, “I owe, I owe it'd off to work I go…”


The Bible doesn’t teach that all debt is wrong, but debt is a trap. Sometimes debt is unavoidable in an emergency, or you might secure a loan to make your life a little easier, but it is best to avoid borrowing unless absolutely necessary. Especially for something that will go down in value, like a new car. Rent-to-own plans are not a good idea, either, and payday loans can tangle you up in a deepening spiral of liability.


The first five verses of Proverbs 6 advise against co-signing a loan for a friend. It is dangerous for both financial and relationship reasons. You oblige yourself to pay a loan for a person that the bank does not trust.


If you find yourself in debt, get out of fast. “Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.” (Proverbs 6:5)


First, don’t borrow any more money. Don’t take out a debt consolidation loan. There will be fees, more interest and you’ll end up owing more money. Instead make the minimum payments on all your obligations and make extra payments on the smallest debt. When that one is paid off, work on the next smallest and so on. In this way, you are reversing the debt spiral in which you found yourself.


Commit any unexpected cash to reducing the debt and try to make some extra money. You can have a yard sale and get rid of your clutter or get a part time job. Even at minimum wage, a part time job will make enough to make a significant dent in your debt.


Keep going after you’ve paid off the credit cards and the car loans. Start saving to build up an emergency fund. Keep going. Start saving for your next car. If you can make a car payment, you can set that much aside. Make interest instead of paying it.


Be like the ant. “…it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” (Proverbs 6:8)

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Wisdom for your heart

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.

Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

Let your eyes look straight ahead;

fix your gaze directly before you.

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.

Proverbs 4:23-26


The Bible tells us, “Above everything else guard your heart.”


This admonition goes beyond a heart-healthy diet. Our heart requires spiritual care. We must guard our hearts because Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (Matthew 15:19)”


We must avoid the sinful contaminants that wear our heart down. Proverbs 6:24 warns, “Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.”


Jesus said, “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Matthew 12:34)”


Check your heart health by listening to what comes out of your mouth. “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
(James 3:10-12)”


We are also warned about our eyes. “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. (Proverbs 6:25)”


What your eyes focus on will enter your heart. Jesus was serious about this. He said, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:29)”


Jesus said, additionally, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. (Luke 11:34)”


Therefore, we must keep our eyes on Jesus the beginning and the end of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)


Keep out of situations that can compromise your heart. “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. (Proverbs 6:26)”

Monday, April 10, 2023

Thinking About Walden

Henry David Thoreau believed that humans were innately good and could live life in harmony with nature. Indeed, God declared creation to be very good (Genesis 1:31.) However, Thoreau understood that humanity’s greed leads to exploitation and diminishes our environment, our health, and our happiness. The desire of Adam and Eve to have more than what God had provided led to disobedience and the Fall of creation.

A vegetarian who avoided rich, processed food, Thoreau decided to demonstrate a life of simplicity and self-reliance by living for two years on Walden Pond. Minimalism was his goal, believing that possessions increased labor and stress in both getting and keeping them.

People can live on much less than they suppose. Stone Age humans only needed a few hours a week to gather basic needs. This left time for them to develop culture. But when agriculture created abundance, the market emerged and with it the accumulation of wealth. So, we began to put in extra hours because time became money.

The biblical principle of gleaning helps mitigate our tendency to hoard. Farmers were not to harvest the corners of their fields. These crops were to be left for the poor and strangers traveling through your land. Likewise, whatever fell to the ground was not to be gathered.

The Sabbath also mitigates against greed. Servants, animals, and the land are all to be given time off, instead of being exploited to squeeze out the last bit of profit. The owners, too, were to rest.

The Year of Jubilee was the best counter to the desire to amass wealth. Every fifty years land was to be returned to the original owners, debts were to be forgiven, and slaves were set free.

Jesus taught us to consider the birds in the air and the flowers in the field (Matthew 6:25-34.) God provides for them and provides for us. Humans are a part of God’s creation and can live in harmony with all creation.

In “Walden,” Thoreau addressed the greediness of society over 150 years ago. A reckless selfishness that leads away from peace of mind and is ultimately self-destructive.