Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What’s In Your Wallet?

The house of the righteous contains great treasure; but the income of the wicked brings them trouble. Proverbs 15:6

A popular TV commercial poses the question, “What’s In Your Wallet?” What type of purchasing power resides in your billfold? When reading Proverbs 15:6 this thought occurred to me: the righteous and the wicked can amass great fortunes and have completely different experiences. The words great treasure and income both mean material possessions, money, wealth, etc. God is not opposed to people being rich. Abraham was God’s friend and was a very wealthy man, 2 Chronicles 20:7, Genesis 13:2. When given a choice, Solomon selected wisdom above everything else available. The result of his decision; God rewarded him with great riches, 1 Kings 2:13. Even Jesus needed a treasurer, John 4: 5-6.

A study of Israel’s founding as a nation showed everyone, rich or poor, tithed ten percent; the original flat tax. All were encouraged to help those less fortunate. The recipients and the amount of aid given were at the benefactor’s discretion; not mandated by law. Charitable giving was preferably done in small amounts spread out over a large population. In most cases these were loans not handouts. Many years ago I read “This Is My God; The Jewish Way of Life” by Herman Wouk. He made a statement to the effect that the Jewish mindset is that no one is ever too poor that they cannot give to someone else in need. That thinking would serve our world well today.

The point is this: it’s not what you have; it’s how you get it. In a recent post “Payback Is Hell” the consequences of returning evil for good was discussed; not a pretty picture. When I read Proverbs 15:6, the word “income” jumped out at me. My thought was “in-come….incoming missile.” In my mind’s eye I saw the vapor trail and explosion as the ordnance hit its target. What the wicked draw to them has trouble attached to it. Is breaking the rules; running roughshod over people; taking no prisoners and looking out for Number One really worth the price of admission?

Before entering the Promised Land, Moses gave the Israelites a refresher course in their covenant with God. Their behavior determined if they were blessed or cursed. The Western world largely discounts curses, relegating them to material for Hollywood horror movies. Other cultures like Haiti, with its ties to voodoo, take curses seriously. Deuteronomy 27 shows these are no figments of the imagination but real, powerful dynamics in the spirit realm. Our “sophistication” has left us wide open and vulnerable.

At this point in their history, Israel was a cashless society. Income and wealth was determined by livestock, possessions and after possessing the land, crops raised. Anything acting as a unit of currency was affected by one’s behavior. Deuteronomy 27:15-26 lists the actions of a cursed individual. A common theme found in all is selfishness. He/she’s actions benefit only them at the expense of others; the means justify the ends. It’s sad to see someone truly oblivious to the consequences looming as they travel down a path to destruction. It is heartbreaking and tragic to see those who understand fully and still don’t care.

“When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes; all he expects from his power comes to nothing” Proverbs 11:7.
Nothing, no thing, zero, zilch, nada; this is a harsh reality to wake up to in eternity. The wicked not only are compensated for their actions eternally, but also experience repeated troubles that hit hard during this life. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. God’s offer to change our life and be blessed is always on the table. The converse of Proverbs 11:7 is the righteous die and see their hope fulfilled. Their wise use of power in this life produced greater results than they realized.

Does Capital One have it right? Perhaps “What’s In You Wallet?” is something for us to consider. Do we wish its contents to be a target for blessings or for heat-seeking missiles of trouble? The choice is ours.

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