Archive for the ‘Proverbs 21’ Category


Under Gods Command 

Proverbs 21:12 The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin.

Good men always win in the end. Though it appears they are losing at times, they know better, and Almighty God is on their side. The wicked assume they are in control, but the Judge of all is committed to destroy them. These are the certain rules of life and eternity.

Due to compromise of truth in these perilous times of the last days (II Tim 4:3-4), this common theme of the Bible is nearly unknown (Ps 9:16-17; 37:34-40; Pr 10:6,24-25,27-30; 11:3-9,18-21; 12:2,7,21; 13:6,9,21-22; 14:11,19,32; 15:8-9,29; 21:18,21; 28:18).

Can you see the future? Wisdom gives that ability. Do you have wisdom? You should see that many of those who are popular and prosperous now will soon be wiped out. Which ones will be destroyed? God will judge those who openly and proudly live wicked lives. Wisdom includes the discernment and understanding to see God’s soon reckoning.

Moses wrote about those who sin against the LORD, “Be sure your sin will find you out,” (Num 32:23). Wise men know this axiom of God’s universe. The more public and profane a sinner, no matter how secure at the time, the more likely his soon demise (Job 20:4-29). Learn to look past the glitter and glib of famous sinners to see their early ruin.

Righteous men live disciplined lives, denying lusts that others obey daily. It may shake their faith and resolve to see the wicked prospering in wickedness (Ps 73:1-15), but they quickly recover by recalling God’s holy justice and vengeance against sinners (Ps 73:16-28). They know God is not mocked – a violent reversal of fortune is coming (Gal 6:7).

The world adores profane and profligate sinners, especially celebrities in entertainment, athletics, or politics. They have household names; their every word and move are closely followed; their pictures are everywhere; they are referred to as stars; they get huge financial contracts; they are welcome anywhere at anytime. To their fans and sycophants, they seem invincibly happy and successful. But God is burning (Na 1:2,5-6; Heb 12:29)!

Consider a few. How great is Alexander, his family, or Greece now (Dan 8:8; 11:1-4)? Where are the Pharaohs? Why is Egypt a base nation (Ezek 29:14)? The once beautiful and powerful cities and kingdoms of Babylon and Tyre are ruins compared to what they were when living wickedly. They had a reversal of fortune (Is 47:1-15; Ezek 28:1-26)! Can you find the Hittites, Amorites, Ammonites, Philistines, Moabites, or Edomites?

Consider a few more. By Bible definitions of wickedness, which are strange and extreme to even religious people in this ignorant generation, can you recall these lives without sentimentality corrupting the view? What about Elvis, the Babe, Marilyn, John Lennon, Lenin, Errol, Jimi, James Dean, Jim Morrison, MLK, Princess Diana, JFK, Al Capone, Eva Braun, MJ, Bonnie and Clyde, Keith Moon, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, etc.?

Do you know the average life expectancy of rappers is around 27 and that of rockers not many years more? God is not mocked. They cannot live the public lives of excess they do and get away with it. God is on His throne laughing at them (Pr 1:24-31; Ps 2:4-5; 37:9-15). Righteous men learn to consider such persons wisely and foresee their bitter end.

The humble righteous, the children and friends of God, know divine fury is held back by God’s longsuffering (Ps 50:21-22; Rom 9:21-24). They know He holds back judgment for the wicked to commit greater sins and earn greater judgment (Gen 15:16; Dan 9:24; Matt 23:29-36). The longer He waits, the hotter the fire of His holy and jealous wrath.

If you do not know this dreadful and terrible God, you need to start reading the Bible (Deut 29:20; 32:21-25; Ps 21:9; 76:7; 137:7-9; Is 66:15-16; Jer 10:10; II Cor 5:9-11; Heb 10:26-31). If you read the Bible but did not know this, then you need a new preacher (Is 30:8-14; Jer 1:9-10; 23:25-32; Mal 2:7; Matt 21:40-46; 22:1-14; II Tim 4:3-4).

What is the lesson? Wise men learn God’s horrible fury is coming on the wicked, so there is no cause or reason to envy them (Ps 37:1,7; Pr 3:31; 24:1,19). They consider the great reversal of fortune that is coming in this world and the next. They know it is better to be the beggar Lazarus than the rich man living luxuriously (Luk 16:19-26). Do you know it?

Why is there a disjunctive connecting the two clauses of this proverb? The righteous man shows his wisdom by not being moved by the short-term prosperity and success of the wicked. Though he looks happy and secure now, God is just about to throw him down. The “but” indicates that God’s overthrow of the wicked is contrary to all appearances.

The life of the righteous is win-win. God blesses them in this world, and then He gives them eternal life in the next world. The blatantly wicked are chased by numerous evils in this life, and then they are cast into the lake of fire for eternity. Even if the righteous sacrifice things now, God rewards them 100-fold more with those things (Mk 10:28-30).

Do not envy the wicked. Do not live like them. Never be a hypocrite by trusting this proverb while living sinfully yourself. Look past the world’s flattering lies. Reject rosy tales of popularity and wealth. See a holy and jealous God coming in vengeance on those who defy Him. Believe it is coming; pray for it; rejoice in it (Ps 58:6-11; Ex 15:1-21).


Under Gods Command

Proverbs 13:21 Misfortune pursues the sinner, but prosperity is the reward of the righteous

Something is chasing you! Trouble chases sinners until it catches them and brings pain and misery into their lives. Blessing chases righteous men until it catches them and brings good, promotion, and rewards. Look over your shoulder! Something is chasing you right now! Which is it – evil or good? Whichever it is, it will catch you for sure.

Actions have consequences. Sin will eventually bring evil – grief, loss, pain, and trouble. “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num 32:23)! “The way of transgressors is hard” (Pr 13:15)! “Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward” (Pr 22:5)! A course of sin will bring judgment, and it will follow your every move until it catches and punishes you.

Actions have consequences. Obedience will bring blessing – favor, prosperity, pleasure, and reward. “He that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good” (I Pet 3:10-12). Doing what is right will bring good into your life (Job 36:11; Ps 19:11; Jas 1:25).

Constant sinners are fools. They think they can get away with sin (Ps 36:1-2). But a holy God in heaven is not watching from a distance. His angels are watching you read these words (Pr 15:3). He sends them to chase and persecute sinners (Ps 35:5-6). He rewards fools and transgressors (Pr 26:10). He plentifully rewards a proud doer (Ps 31:23; 32:10).

Lot watched too much Sodom television, but evil caught him, destroyed all he had, and left him with two incestuous daughters in a cave. Many Corinthians carnally partook of communion, but they were weak, sick, and died for it. Judas wanted to make some quick cash, but evil dashed his bowels across the ground. Evil pursued them and caught them.

If you repeatedly offend God, evil will chase and destroy you. To the froward, or disobedient, God will be froward, or contrary (Ps 18:26). This universal law is as sure as gravity. Joab sought safety at God’s altar, but the sword of justice caught him there (I Kgs 2:28-34). Jonah thought Tarshish would be safe, but a storm and a whale chased and caught him. Where are you cheating God? You can run, but you cannot hide. Repent!

Where do you regularly sin? If you neglect training your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, they will destroy your life (Pr 29:15). If you neglect your spouse, God will not hear your prayers (I Pet 3:7). If you toy with pornography or sexual lusts, you will end up in death and hell (Pr 2:18; 5:5; 7:27; 9:18). Does God not see? His angels listen to your words; they check hair and submission of women (Eccl 5:6; I Cor 11:10). He may deceive you with false peace, but He is about to tear you in pieces (Ps 50:21-22).

If you seek the Lord with a committed heart, goodness will follow and bless you. Guaranteed! To the merciful and upright, God will be merciful and upright (Ps 18:25). But He laughs at lip service or church attendance. He looks for a dedicated heart and mind that are committed to holiness and righteousness (Ps 37:4; 145:19; Matt 6:33). Do not faint or be discouraged, there is a reward for the righteous (Ps 58:1-11; I Cor 15:58).

No man can live a perfect righteous life (I Jn 1:8,10), but you may generally do so, and you may cover sins by confession and God’s faithful forgiveness (I Jn 1:9). You can start over as often as you need with a clean slate in the sight of God, and while walking with God the blood of His Son Jesus will cleanse you from all sin (I Jn 1:7). No matter how terrible your sins, you can start over with God. Consider Mannaseh and Mary Magdalene.

David was one of God’s favorites, blessed abundantly in many ways, for who loved God more than him? He knew God had rewarded his righteousness (Ps 18:19-26; 7:3-9; 17:2-4; 26:1; 37:23). Though he sinned in several ways, God forgave him and blessed him still. Do not be fearful or hopeless because of your sins. Confess and forsake them, for He will abundantly pardon and restore (Is 55:6-9; 58:1-14; II Chr 33:12-13; Job 36:6-12).

You are choosing this very moment what will chase and catch you (Pr 24:20; Is 3:10-11). What should you do? Repent for any sins! “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed” (Ps 37:3). Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap. If you play with the flesh and sin, evil will destroy you (Gal 6:7-10). If you seek the Lord with a careful heart, He will look to bless you greatly (II Chr 16:9)!

Jesus of Nazareth loved and did righteousness. God anointed Him with the oil of gladness above all men (Heb 1:9). He endured the cross and despised its shame, for He saw the eternal joys and pleasures at God’s right hand (Ps 16:11; Heb 12:2). You are to consider Jesus and the saints who obtained the promises by faithful obedience (Heb 11:6; 12:1-3).


Under Gods Command 

Proverbs 21:9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife

Why are some men often away from home? They hunt, work extra hours, golf, live in their workshop, manicure the lawn, stay in the basement, or listen to music with headphones. Why? They are avoiding the dreadful creature they foolishly married. These poor men made a life-ruining choice by marrying a contentious and debating woman.

God created Eve to be the perfect companion for Adam, and she was (Gen 2:18-25). Marriage gives a man his own wife for pleasant company, mutual help, and sexual pleasure (Eccl 4:9-12; 9:9; I Cor 7:1-5). But sin in Eden and ever since has corrupted God’s design, and proud and selfish women become yapping, nagging irritants at home.

How does sin corrupt God’s creation (Eccl 7:29)? A man’s greatest pleasure becomes his severest pain! His greatest treasure his largest loss! His best friend his worst enemy! His source of peace and comfort his endless misery (Pr 12:4)! When the tortured victim realizes his grave error, his spirit is stricken, and he is forced to surrender and withdraw from her presence to find his only comfort in the quiet solitude of other pursuits.

A brawling woman is a quarrelsome, wrangling, clamorous, noisy, or bawling woman. You have mostly heard her – she is usually talking, correcting, debating, scolding, suggesting, reminding, and otherwise making herself an unbearable nuisance. Attempts to correct her meet with failure, for her unruly pride cannot submit or shut up.

How widespread is the problem? Solomon warned five other times with proverbs similar to this one (Pr 12:4; 19:13; 21:19; 25:24; 27:15-16). It is a common problem, especially in this rebellious age, when women no longer know their God-ordained place. It is a dangerous trap waiting to entice young men by its bait and then spring shut on them.

It is better – do you hear the Preacher? He gave one of the wise priorities of life. It is better to live on the roof than in a large house with such a woman. It is better to be single, alone and lonely, than to cohabit with this onerous wretch in a joyless marriage. It is better to stay in the workshop making another piece of worthless furniture than to try to have any peace or pleasure with the female know-it-all that has taken over your house.

God, who created the woman for the man, declared that a meek and quiet spirit is of great price, far better than improving appearance (I Pet 3:3-4). External decorating can never cover the inward blemish of a contentious spirit (Pr 11:22; 27:15-16). He promised such a woman will be praised by husband and children (Pr 31:28). Such noble and virtuous women should be honored and praised, and the odious wives of this proverb should be ignored and slighted for punishment and an example to others (Pr 11:16; 26:1-12).

Young man, reject her! Thoughtless impulse, desperate need, or foolish infatuation will torment you for fifty years. Let married men meet and test your prospect and her mother; let them check for a whiff of that odious spirit. Any character flaw you find before marriage will be ten times worse later (Pr 30:21-23). And this deformity does not improve with age, but rather gets worse. Your only hope will be the mercy of death.

Henpecked husband, have you already married poorly? If she fears the LORD, take her to the Bible and help her read her Creator’s orders. Find a church where the man of God will rebuke and instruct her for you. Expose her to gracious women. If she does not fear the Lord, get some snacks and pick the corner of the roof with the least exposure.

Christian girl or woman, hate this repulsive creature as much as the strange woman. Listen for her constant chatter, foolish laughter, whining complaints, negative observations, rude interruptions, overbearing corrections, nagging reminders, selfish suggestions, or haughty questions. Vow before the LORD your God you will never live one day of her life. Vow that you will glorify God and adorn your sex by graciousness.

Submission is your role and duty (Eph 5:22-24); rejecting it destroys your true beauty. Graciousness will get you perpetual respect (Pr 11:16); reverence will earn you constant esteem (Eph 5:33; I Pet 3:5-6); reserved speech will exalt your name and reputation (Pr 17:27). Be quiet – surely you know what this word means. Be meek – endure offences rather than avenge them or defend yourself. You will be praised by both God and men.


Under Gods Command 

Proverbs 21:29 A wicked man puts up a bold front, but an upright man gives thought to this ways

You show your heart by how you receive instruction. Wicked men rebel and purpose to continue in their evil way. Righteous men receive correction and alter their lives. Your response to instruction may tell more about your character and future than anything else.

A wicked man hardens his face. Here is a metaphor for a rebel who has purposed to reject teaching. He chooses to rebel rather than to submit. Setting his jaw, steeling his eyes, frowning, or looking away are only symptoms of his wicked heart. He has resolved to ignore correction and instruction and stay put in his opinions, conduct, and habits.

The Lord knows faces and how they reveal rebellion, so He warned about them (Is 48:4; Jer 3:3; 5:3). Rebellious hardening is also used of the neck and heart (Pr 28:14; 29:1; Acts 7:51). He told His ministers to ignore such faces and preach the unvarnished truth without apology or compromise anyway (Jer 1:4-10,17; 23:28-29; Ezek 2:6-7; 3:7-9).

You cannot play with God. He knows your every thought; He knows your every intent (Heb 4:12-14). He knows how submissive or rebellious you are at the deepest level of your heart and mind. Get totally clean with Him by tearing out any resistance to any Bible doctrine or practice, and fill your heart and mind with eagerness (Ps 27:4; 122:1-4).

Ministers learn faces. There is a huge difference between the hungry, submissive, cheerful, and godly face of the righteous and the bored, stubborn, unhappy, and carnal face of the wicked. Some faces crave and devour instruction; others resent and reject it. Both are in every church. They cannot hide from men or God. Their hearts are revealed.

Sometimes a minister will see by the faces that his hard preaching is “out of season.” The people do not want to hear what he has from the Lord. Sometimes his preaching may be “in season.” But in either case, he has only one duty: preach the word insistently and press it upon all the hearers (II Tim 4:2). Only fearless men should ever be ordained.

A true man of God wages war against those faces, smashes through their walls, pulls down their strongholds, casts down their haughty imaginations, brings every thought into obedience to Christ, and readies himself to revenge any disobedience (II Cor 10:3-6). Do you understand this warfare, reader? Do you appreciate this kind of servant? It is a far cry from the effeminate, refined, cultured, and mannered pastor sought by most Christians.

God hates stubbornness and rebellion. He considers them comparable to idolatry and witchcraft (I Sam 15:22-23). And He judges them severely. Think King Saul rejected from the throne! Think Judah in Babylon! Think women eating their children in 70 A.D.!

Righteous men hear and change. The Thessalonians heard Paul and turned from their idols to serve the living and true God (I Thess 1:9-10). Cornelius begged Peter to tell him and his family all of God’s commandments (Acts 10:33). Harlots wept at Jesus feet.

Dear reader, the Lord Jesus warned you about your hearing (Luke 8:18). Do you receive instruction and rebuke meekly and thankfully (Neh 8:1-18; Acts 17:11)? Or do you stop up your ears and wish you could stone the preacher (Acts 7:57)? Why do some people never learn or grow? Because the Lord is judging them for how they hear (Luke 8:18)!

You can stay in your wicked rut received from childhood, the devil, your parents, tradition, religious training, or worldly education. Or you can eagerly desire the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby (I Pet 2:1-3). Wise men and great men say, “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies” (Ps 119:59).

Do you delight in understanding? Or rather to discover your own heart? Solomon warned against this folly (Pr 18:2). If you think your heart already has any light and wisdom, you will harden your face against godly instruction. God does not grant your heart any at all (Is 8:20; Jer 17:9). Wise men will hear, learn, and change (Pr 4:26; 8:33; 11:5; 23:19).

Some hearers do not harden their faces; they nod up-and-down in agreement; they tell the pastor it was a good sermon. They lie with their lips and their handshakes (Ps 144:8,11). But their hearts are hard and far away during the teaching and when they get home. How are they detected? Their lives are fruitless shells of hypocrisy. Their joy is gray death.

Jesus told of a father who told his two sons to work in the vineyard (Matt 21:28-32). One son said he would not, but later repented and went and worked anyway. The other son respectfully said he would, but he did not. Which one pleased his father? Consider it. If a wicked man will hear and turn from his wickedness, he shall live (Ezek 18:27-28).

Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Lord of heaven and earth, kindly offers, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). But He also warns, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Humble yourself today, dear reader!


Under Gods Command

Proverbs 21:18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous, and the unfaithful for the upright.

The God of heaven loves the righteous, and He gladly sacrifices the wicked for them. The ransom price to purchase and bless the righteous is the lives of wicked transgressors. He will save the righteous by sacrificing their wicked enemies, and He will return their wicked designs against the righteous upon their own heads. Consider Psalm 7:10-17!

Are you envious at the prosperity of the wicked? Are you troubled by their hatred for the righteous? Are you afraid of their proud waves? They shall foam out their shame in everlasting darkness! But before they get to that dark place, they shall be sold to trouble. There is a righteous God, and He makes differences in how He treats men (Ps 58:10-11 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked. Then men will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.”)

The best example to illustrate this lesson is the ransom of Egypt for Israel. The LORD loved His people Israel, and He heard their cry by reason of the hard bondage the Egyptians put upon them (Ex 1:13-14; 2:23-25). He had respect for them, but He did not have respect for Egypt. They were about to become the ransom for His righteous nation.

He sent ten plagues and horribly destroyed them before drowning Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s counselors admitted the plagues had destroyed the nation (Ex 10:7). With the firstborn dead in every home, the Egyptians begged for Israel to leave, so Israel “borrowed” the wealth of the whole nation to never return it. And the Lord joyfully directed Israel to spoil the Egyptians this way (Ex 12:35-36). Give God the glory!

The LORD declares of this transaction, “For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life” (Isaiah 43:3-4). This is the lesson.

God directed Joshua to stone Achan and his family to save Israel (Josh 7:1-26). Saul’s seven sons were hanged to ransom Israel from a famine from the LORD (II Sam 21:1-14). And Haman and his ten sons were hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai and the Jews (Esther 7:10). There is a God that treats men differently (Ps 58:10-11).

Consider the words in another proverb, “The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead” (Pr 11:8). The Lord will pluck the righteous out of trouble and put the wicked in his place! The Lord will punish the wicked instead of the righteous.

God used Assyria as his tool to chasten Israel; then He turned and crushed Assyria for their actions and attitude (Is 10:5-19). And He did the same to Babylon, whom He used to punish Israel and other nations for seventy years before punishing them (Jer 25:8-14).

The servant that did not earn a return on his single talent was punished severely, and his talent was taken and given to the man with ten. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer; yes, the poor are sacrificed for the rich in this spiritual parable (Matt 25:14-30).

Dear reader, if you fear the Lord and seek to live righteously, the Lord loves you and will gladly sacrifice the wicked for you. There is no need to fear them at all. The Lord is in His holy temple, and He will never let the wicked have their way with you. Your lesson in this proverb is the glorious providence of Almighty God in disposing of events in this life for the benefit of His people. He will sacrifice others for the benefit of His children.

The day is coming when Christians will judge the world and angels (I Cor 6:2-3). The devils and sinners have persecuted them for thousands of years, but the day of vengeance is coming, when the martyrs under the altar of God shall have their great desire fulfilled (Rev 6:9-11). Both wicked men and angels shall be sacrificed in place of His children.

Let this lesson drive away any fear or intimidation of the wicked, and let it replace that fear with a humble desire to be the honourable and beloved people of the most High. For “no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper” (Is 54:11-17). And “he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of mine eye” (Zech 2:8-9). Thank you, Lord, for defending and saving the upright in heart. Consider Psalm 7:10-17 again. Glory!


Under Gods Command                                                                                                 I

1 Corinthians 10:14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

Idol worship was the major expression of religion in Corith. There were several pagan temples in the city, and they were very popular. The statues of wood or stone were not evil in themselves, but people gave them credit for what only God could do, such as provide good weather, crops, and children, idolatry is still a serious problem today, but it takes a different form. We don’t put our trust in statures of wood and stone, but in paper money and plastic cards.

Lets Bring it Home: Trusting anything for what God alone provides is idolatry. Our modern idols are those symbols of power, pleasure, or prestige that we so highly regard. When we understand contemporary parallels to idolatry, Paul’s words to “flee from idolatry” become much more meaningful.

 


Under Gods Command

Proverbs 21:17 He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

An easy way to get richer is to stop spending (Pr 21:20)! It is not the high cost of living that hurts people, but the cost of high living! The typical American is addicted to an extravagant lifestyle that keeps him poor and stressed. The pleasure, wine, and oil of Solomon’s day are the entertainment, toys, and eating out of today. Individuals, businesses, and the nation are financially sick and dying due to excessive spending.

Most spend more than they need to spend. But many men crave pleasure and luxury, and they spend themselves into poverty. These people are always in financial trouble, but they never stop wasteful spending. They are convinced they deserve and need the things they buy. They will always be poor. Though many of these people have adequate or better income, they spend it all and then some. Bankruptcies of all kinds are on the rise.

Ben Franklin, a founding father of America, summarized Solomon by saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Reducing your spending is the same as raising your income. If Ben were writing today, with the average marginal tax rate at 28%, he would say, “A penny saved is 1.4 pennies earned,” reflecting income taxes. If that lost you, reducing expenses by $1000 is the same as increasing income $1400 for the average taxpayer.

Some men live within their means, but most do not. In economic theory, the desire to increase spending as income rises is the propensity to consume. In America, it is often greater than 100%. Spending increases faster than income, and they cover the difference with credit card, installment, and mortgage debt. They never pay off a house, for when they get close, they buy a bigger house, whether they need it or not, or they refinance the old house and take the equity out of it to spend for leisure and toys. The love of pleasure and luxury crushes them, for they have created “needs” they cannot justify or afford.

But some men can live modestly, even though rich. They do not love pleasure, wine, or oil. Sam Walton, the richest and most successful American when he was alive, continued to drive a pickup truck accompanied by his birddogs. Warren Buffet, the greatest investor and second richest man in the world, still lives in the same little house he bought over 40 years ago and is content with a burger and Coke for his daily repast.

Eating out is not a right. It is an extravagant and luxurious privilege. It is a terrible habit unless your income covers all financial duties with much left over. Your grandparents hardly ever considered it. Eating out hurts the budget more than most any other expense.

In one generation, Americans expect to eat out almost daily, or several times a day. Many women no longer cook at all, and they think it cruel and unusual punishment to hear about it. Brown bagging is considered an insult to the dignity of most Americans. They are in love with Solomon’s wine and oil in restaurants. Debt and poverty are coming.

Rejecting economy, most restaurants pander to gluttony. In a nation craving convenience and extravagance, they are the popular places to be. You must spend more to obtain the original pleasure (Pr 27:7). For $200, a couple is enticed to eat 5000 calories each with drinks, appetizers, soup, salad, entrée, dessert, taxes, tip, babysitting, and gas. For $20, they could have had a carpet picnic of wine, Italian bread, and cheese with candles in the bedroom. And they would not have been bloated and tired when they went to bed!

There are many things you think you need that you do not need – they are the pleasures of this proverb that you should restrict to fit your income. You do not need a cell phone, iPad, or related toys with expensive monthly contracts. You do not need more vehicles than workers in the household. You do not need cable, since you can stream anything. You do not need a gym membership; work out at home. You do not need to shop at the mall. You do not need trips, vacations, or recreation beyond what you can do at home. You certainly do not need a pet, especially a dog, for they can be expensive. Add it up!

The poor man who likes to spend money will always be poor, for he has no savings to take advantage of investment and business opportunities (Pr 14:4). It is only by reserved capital that a man can profit from those few situations in life that offer unusual profits. So again you see the law of nature and of God, the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.

The cure for poverty is the virtue needed for most success – temperance, or self-denial and self-discipline. You make rules to curb spending, no matter how much you “want” or think you “need” something. All you truly need is food, clothing, and shelter. Anything else is luxury and pleasure. If you are wasteful, you are brother to the slothful man (Pr 18:9). If you are wasteful, you are brother to drunkards and gluttons (Pr 23:20-21).

You may need to be drastic. Throw your television out. You will save your soul and avoid aggressive advertising. Throw away your credit cards. You will hinder impulse buying and avoid the highest interest rates in the market. Vacations are not a right. They are luxurious privileges of those who have their finances in order. Reject the pride that says you cannot buy used cars, homes, furniture, appliances, or even clothing. Your children, especially infants, do not need the latest anything, and nor do you.

You live among spendthrifts. You face high advertising and peer pressure all day. Federal and state governments go deeply into debt to cover wasteful spending. Businesses and consumers follow, all greedily gorging on comfort, extravagance, luxury, and pleasure. God calls you to be financially temperate and to teach this virtue to your children. Real financial independence is living within your means and trusting your heavenly Father.

One good family practice, unheard of in this wasteful generation, is to see how cheaply you can live for one month. Cancel the newspaper. No eating out. No video rentals. No entertainment away from home. No unnecessary driving. Stick to a basic menu. Turn off lights, and set the thermostat back a few degrees. You can teach your children to appreciate what they are used to, and you can show how to economize when necessary.

Another good family practice is to live on a budget – something governments and most citizens no longer do. While budgeting can be made complicated and intimidating, there is a simple solution. Whenever you have income, such as a paycheck, pay God first, make your savings contribution second, deposit some into an account for household emergences, and pay all your bills or set aside the money for them. You are now free to indulge yourself on what is left! Most will realize they need more income, which means they have been living above their means and are fools on the way to the poor house.

Loving the pleasures of this world will also make a man spiritually poor, for you cannot love this world and Jesus Christ. He demands your total devotion to Him (Matt 6:24; Jas 4:4). Lot chose the well-watered plain of Jordan and the city of Sodom, to the loss of his family and perpetual shame in the church of God. But Moses gave up the pleasures and riches of Egypt for the reproach and poverty of the people of God (Heb 11:24-26).

If you mind earthly things – the lusts and pleasures of this world, you are a belly worshipper (Phil 3:18-19). You have backslidden into soul poverty and spiritual prison. You do not love God, for you cannot do both (I John 2:15-17). It is the love of money and the things it can buy that steal and destroy the souls of men (I Tim 6:6-10). If you instead choose to lose your life for Jesus Christ, only then will you find it (Matt 16:25).