He who by charging excessive interest and who by unjust efforts to get gain increases his material possession gathers it for him [to spend] who is kind and generous to the poor. Proverbs 28:8
You don’t have to search very far to find accounts of shrewd businessmen who amassed great wealth and power. Or of those whose families turn and philanthropically share it all with the very people he used to get rich.
But what’s not so prevalent is insight into the “soul” interest and unjust efforts we common folk make every single day. Selfishly, we can be guilty of taking advantage of situations and circumstances privy to us without a thought of how it affects another.
In an effort to do better for ourselves, we steal time from our family. In an effort to advance at our work, we pursue another person’s position. And in an effort to have someone in charge that we like, we speak ill of those we don’t agree with.
Today’s proverb isn’t just about the rich getting richer and their money being given away. It’s about precious moments and precious people that are ours to love and cherish. Because if we don’t, someone else will come along and get that job done. And all that we worked for will possibly be lost.
Appetite is an incentive to work; hunger makes you work all the harder. Proverbs 16:25 MSG
Work is necessary and the desire to create something out of nothing is all about God’s divine design. Genesis 2 records God gave His man work before He gave him a woman. That doesn’t suggest girls don’t work. For me, I see a basic principle…work is good!
But in our day and time, it seems as if there is an aversion to honest labor. Many of us have seen the hungry holding up their cardboard sign at our cities major intersections. And I have felt compelled to contribute to the cause more times than not. But I must mention here that when we moved to my wife’s hometown, out in the country, those signs are not here! On the contrary, there are many farmers who would love to have a hard-working hand or somebody that’s not afraid to cut some trees or build some fence for a few dollars.
The bottom line when it comes to work is there has to be a “want to.” And one of the worst things you can do to a culture of people is to encourage them to seek an easy way to get their needs met.
The wildly popular book called the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a take off of this kind of situation. After the Roman downfall, it was said that their demise was due to a people forgetting their historical birthright for the promise of cheap food and entertainment, or a superficial means of appeasement. This was coined “bread and circuses” (Latin: panem et circuses).
It always turns out that there is nothing new under the sun. Still, God gave us all hearts to work at something. And my work will look different than yours, but if we will “work” at it intently, the world will indeed revolve in balance and in abundance.
From the fruit of his words a man shall be satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hands shall come back to him [as a harvest]. Proverbs 12:14 AMP
Old Zan and I quickly became friends. Every couple of months or so he would come by the church hustling a “few dollars.” Most of the time we would give him enough to stay out of too much trouble and send him on his way.
But one day, I decided to bring him in my office and learn a little bit of his story. I was serving a church in Oklahoma City at the time as an Administrative Pastor and I was located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in town. Zan was one of many recipients who frequented the doors of that church in need of basic food, clothing, and shelter.
What I learned that day changed my perspective on the poor. For all practical purposes, on the surface, Zan appeared pretty needy. But in all actuality, through his disability check and other benefits he received from his military service days, we were clearing about the same amount. That was a wake-up call for sure.
So why was I working at the church while he was begging from the church? Why was my money feeding and clothing seven people at that time and he wasn’t even covering himself? It was because my friend was a broken man on the inside. I don’t know if there were issues before his accident in the service, but in an effort to heal up, addiction to the meds set in and never let him go.
At the time, that was all new to me. But any more, Zan’s story is commonplace. Though he never let me in deep enough to help with the real “monster,” he did hang around long enough to change some of his conversation about himself and his attitude about using his hands constructively…even if he couldn’t do what he used to could do before he got hurt.
In this life, things happen and sometimes they are life-altering and unfortunate. But today’s Proverb assures that if we will find ourselves saying the right things with our mouths, doing the right things with our hands will happen. And we will look up from the ashes and see a harvest of good things all around us.