2 Timothy 3:16 reads, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” That verse is comfort to all who want to live the Christian life, but it’s also a reminder that we ought not misuse Scripture. We’ll talk about what that means and how that connects to managing money, today on MoneyWise
Let me start by giving credit to our friend Michael Blue at the Ron Blue Institute for his series of articles on ways the Bible is misused.
The first error folks often make when interpreting the Bible is something called proof texting. Simply put, proof texting is using a verse or passage out of context.
Proof texting makes the Bible appear as a collection of handy statements to justify whatever behavior is desired.
A case in point is Jesus’ statement in Luke 14:28, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”
Contrary to popular belief, this verse has nothing to do with saving or planning. If you read the entire passage, you see that Jesus is actually warning His followers to think carefully about the extraordinarily high cost of following Him. We must be prepared to lose everything to be His disciples. He says, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
Taken in context, it’s clear that Jesus isn’t talking about financial planning. He’s warning that we’ll face tribulation as His followers and that we must be prepared to lose everything.
Another example of this is his interaction with the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10. That man hadn’t counted the cost before deciding to follow Christ and would not give up his wealth.
Okay, let’s turn to Proverbs, a book commonly cited for financial wisdom. To read Proverbs correctly, we need to understand what the author, Solomon, is actually saying to his original audience.
Here’s an example of how we can miss the deeper meaning of a particular verse. Let’s look at Proverbs 13:22, which reads, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.”
Easy, right? We should acquire wealth to leave to our heirs. But is there a deeper meaning?
To find out, we should ask: What exactly does “inheritance” mean? And what exactly is a “good man?”
Here again, we have to take the verse in context. What is Scripture saying immediately before and after? A deeper reading of Proverbs 13 shows that the author defines the good man as “righteous.”
What kind of inheritance, then, does the righteous man leave? And who was Solomon writing to at the time? Ancient Israel was an agrarian society with more than its share of poor farmers. If they couldn’t leave a financial inheritance to their children’s children, were they bad people? Not at all.
If you understand that an inheritance can mean much more than money. It’s something of value that we leave to our offspring, and there’s nothing more valuable than wisdom.
That means that even the poorest farmer or lowliest servant could leave something of great value to his heirs. He could teach his household how to worship, honor and obey God, their true Provider.
And certainly, there can be a financial interpretation of this verse, as well, but it doesn’t have to be limited to that. A poor but righteous farmer would be diligent about the practice of farming, working hard and not falling into debt so that his heirs could hold on to the family land.
But even there we see the real inheritance is wisdom. The righteous man set an example of diligence and hard work, and that’s wisdom we should still pass on to our heirs 3,000 years later.
Well, we hope this helps you as you study the Bible. Remember to take every verse in context.
On today’s program, Rob also answers listener questions:
● How much is too much for closing costs on a home purchase?
● Is Christian a cost sharing program a good option to cover healthcare costs?
● What kind of account should you place an emergency fund in?
● What is the best way to invest or use $50,000 in cash?
● How can you get rid of a reverse mortgage on an inherited home?
● Christian Healthcare Ministries
● Sound Mind Investing
Remember, you can call in to ask your questions most days at (800) 525-7000 or email them to [email protected]
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