13 Things That Will Make You Poor

This is a guest post I did for onemoneydesign.com.  It is a little long, but well worth the read.

13 Things that will make you Poor

I had the idea the other day to read through the book of Proverbs and make note of all of the verses that relate a cause of poverty. I found thirteen. Their insight is challenging for anyone along the so-called “socio-economic” ladder, and have a lot to teach us all about living wisely.

Now, before we dig in I have to make one thing clear. The book of Proverbs also teaches that: those who oppress or mock the poor show contempt for their Maker (14:31, 17:5), those who treat them kindly honor God and will be rewarded (14:31, 19:17), those who shut their ear to the poor will cry out and not be answered (21:13), and those who are generous to the poor will be blessed (22:9). Therefore, in no way, shape, form, or fashion am I standing on my soapbox ranting against those who are in need. Instead, I am simply categorizing and summarizing a few patterns that the Bible says lead to poverty. I hope this list will help us all recognize the varying shades and shadows of these items in our own life and enable us to live a little more wisely. (Passages quoted from New International Version, ©2011)

SLEEP: “Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare.” (Prov. 20:13)

This will make you look at your snooze bar differently! I think at the heart of this matter is an unwillingness to do what needs to be done (get out of bed and get to work) for the temporary, immediate satisfaction of succumbing to “sheet fever”. I think this describes someone who cannot make himself do something he does not want to do.

TALKING: “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Prov. 14:23)

Talk is cheap says Solomon. Mere talk is no substitute for hard work. As long as we are content to only talk about our endeavors, goals, or plans, we will stay where we are.

DISREGARD OF DISCIPLINE: “Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.” (Prov. 13:18)

Those who disregard accountability, consequence, and correction will not gain the character (or knowledge) needed to live wisely. If we are unwilling to learn from our mistakes and the counsel of others, it makes sense that we will continue to wallow in the same circumstances our entire life—seemingly unable to improve our lot.

LAZINESS: “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” (Prov. 10:4)

It is obvious that laziness—an unwillingness to work—will lead to poverty. Though we may hear rumors of people getting rich quick or making “easy money”, these instances are the exception not the norm. Diligence, not laziness, leads to wealth.

WITHHOLDING WHAT IS DUE: “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” (Prov. 11:24)

Putting aside integrity in order to profit will lead to poverty. Perhaps in the short-run gain may be attainable, but over the long haul those who put aside right to gain riches will not prosper.

BEING STINGY: “The stingy are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them.” (Prov. 28:22)

This is a tricky one. There are two ways to take this. First, it could mean that those who eagerly desire riches and are stingy will always be poor (no matter how much money they have) because their greed is never satisfied and their stinginess robs them of enjoying any of their money (so it is as if they are poor anyway). Or, the proverb could be interpreted in an eternal sense. The greedy and stingy will be like the rich fool Jesus spoke of who had nothing when his soul was required of him. (Luke 12)

HASTE: “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” (Prov. 21:5)

Planning, preparation, and preparedness lead to profit. It simply makes sense. In the same manner, it is logical to assume that disregarding these things will steer us in the other direction. Making financial decisions hastily and impulsively will never lead to success in the long-term.

OPRESSING POOR: “One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth…come to poverty.” (Prov. 22:16)

Taking advantage of the poor for one’s own financial gain will not lead to prosperity. Similar to withholding what is due, the book of proverbs teaches that trading morality for money will not profit in the long-term (10:2). Money will indeed be made, but it will dwindle by the same immorality by which it was gained.

FLATTERING THE RICH: “One who gives gifts to the rich…come to poverty.” (Prov. 22:16)

There is a manner of living by which the rich (or those who want to be) spend their money trying to out-do and impress one another. In this elaborate charade of conspicuous consumption, all wealth is wasted in an attempt to beat the competition.

CHASING FANTASIES: “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.” (Prov. 28:19)

Wake up and go to work. This proverb doesn’t discount dreams or lofty long-term thinking. Instead, it challenges those who seem unable to accomplish much of anything because they are constantly chasing fantasies and unrealistic endeavors. Like a person in a desert turning this way and that going after every mirage, they refuse to point themselves in one direction and start walking.

LOVE PLEASURE: “Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.” (Prov. 21:17)

Being obsessed with pleasure is self-defeating. Real fulfillment is the by-product of pursuing a greater good (like love, for example). The people described here do not understand this; therefore, they endlessly chase pleasure hoping the next thing, experience, or purchase will satisfy their souls.

GLUTTONY: “Do not join those who…gorge themselves on meat, for…gluttons become poor. And drowsiness clothes them in rags. (Prov. 23:20-21)

Over-consumption will deteriorate your resources. A lifestyle of gluttony and gorging will consume any amount of resources or income. “Give me all I can get and more” will bottom out the barrel eventually.

ALCOHOL: “Do not join those who drink too much wine…for drunkards…become poor. And drowsiness clothes them in rags. (Prov. 23:20-21)

The addiction to alcohol (or any other addiction for that matter) can and will destroy your financial life. All resources will be spent on drunkenness (and the lifestyle that goes with it) only to sober up and repeat the process.

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