“The shocking truth about prosperity is that it is shockingly right instead of shockingly wrong for you to be prosperous! … Please note that the word ‘rich’ means having an abundance of good or living a fuller, more satisfying life. Indeed, you are prosperous to the degree that you are experiencing peace, health, happiness and plenty in your world. There are honorable methods that can carry you quickly toward that goal. It is easier to accomplish than you may now think. That, too, is the shocking truth about prosperity.”
– Catherine Ponder, The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity
One of the absolute worst ideas in the world is the belief that being rich or having money is evil.
If you’re a good person and you work hard to create things that help others, will you be rewarded with poverty and suffering? Of course not! If what you do or create is valuable, people will pay you money for it. The more good that you do like heal people and save lives as a surgeon, hire workers to build homes for a hundred families, cook and feed thousands of families all over the country through your restaurant franchise, etc., the more wealth you will earn.
Thinking that money is evil comes from misunderstanding 1 Timothy 6:10. It never said that money, wealth, or desiring a better life is is evil; it only said the “love of money” is the root of evil. Many verses in the bible actually talk about attaining wealth (both physical and spiritual) as God’s blessings, and in this article I’ll tell you about my three favorites. The first two verses, by the way, are from the wise King Solomon, and the third is from Jesus himself, as written in Matthew’s gospel.
The First Verse:
“The rich man’s wealth is his strong city; the poverty of the poor is their ruin.”
– Proverbs 10:15 (ESV)
This one runs against the whole “being poor is good and being rich is bad” belief.
The wealthy can do great things like live in the best homes, eat the best food, buy the best gadgets and tools, travel the world, donate to charity and help the poor, and enjoy life simply because they are wealthy enough to afford it. They can handle nearly any emergency and rebuild what they lost because they have money, and if they ever lose their riches, they can earn it back as they already learned how to earn it using their minds wealthy with knowledge.
By contrast, the poor live in misery and hunger, sleep in dirty streets, and endure terrible illnesses, simply because they can’t afford better living conditions and they don’t know how to earn anything better.
Sounds unfair right? Why should the wealthy live well and the poor suffer? To answer that, you must ask what causes some people to become wealthy and others to become poor.
The Second Verse:
“A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”
– Proverbs 10:4 (ESV)
You can try this one yourself: Give your best at work to get promoted or expand your business to earn more… or stop working completely and end up as a beggar or drunkard on the streets.
Those who work hard to improve their lives earn money and wealth, while those who don’t become poor. The beggar who spends 12 hours a day begging for alms stay miserable, while the other beggar who spends 12 hours a day walking the city looking for a job will eventually find one. If that beggar can’t find a job, he can beg for alms and save some as capital for a small business peddling goods.
I can never forget the story of the kid who had to support his family by peddling, soap, candles, and thread at the town market (palengke) every day. That kid was John Gokongwei, one of the current wealthiest in the Philippines.
Now let’s go back to 1 Timothy 6:10 which said that the “love of money” is the root of evil. Whether it’s the common thieves and snatchers, scammers who use elaborate tricks (what we Filipinos call “modus”), or corrupt government officials, they’re all the same. Instead of being diligent enough to work and earn wealth properly, their “slack hands” try to get “easy money” instead. They love money so much that they commit evil to have it.
When they are caught, they are punished severely for their crimes and often end up poor. Good people wouldn’t like to hire or do business with criminals. It may take a while (like how some corrupt officials escape justice for decades), but it will happen. Having money but living in fear with a shattered conscience is the worst kind of poverty.
If laziness leads to poverty and diligence leads to wealth, why do some people grow far wealthier than others?
The Third Verse, the final part of Jesus’ “Parable of Talents”:
“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”
– Matthew 25:29 (NLT)
Millionaires, Beggars, You, and Me. What do we all have in common?
We all have One Mind, One Body, and 24 hours a day. So why do some of us grow wealthy and others grow poor? It depends on how we learned to use those blessings.
Some use their minds and bodies to learn how to heal people’s illnesses as doctors. Others use their minds and bodies picking up trash and junk to sell.
Some use their minds and bodies organizing suppliers, cooks, waiters, managers, and other employees for 8 hours a day to sell great food to customers. Others use their minds and bodies for 12 hours a day begging for alms.
Some spend years using their minds and bodies to start a small shop and expand it to grow rich. Others use their minds and bodies to steal wallets.
There’s an old saying that “one hand grows stronger than the other through constant use.” The same days, years, and decades pass by for all of us, and those of us who use our time well eventually grow and earn more.
The employee who kept on improving and learning new skills grows further in her career and earns more as every few years she improves and keeps getting promoted. The others who don’t do well stay in entry-level dead-end jobs for years or get laid off.
The businessman who started with a small shop and works to expand it will earn more as his business grows, and as he expands it he will earn more and more. The businessman who doesn’t improve and tries to get more money by cheating his customers lose business. Years later, the first businessman now has several branches across the city and earns millions of pesos a month. The other one’s business failed and can’t get a job since people don’t trust him.
One worker buys a book that taught her to invest in assets like real estate and stocks, and then saves a little money every month to invest before buying things she likes. As her investments earn money, she reinvests those earnings to earn even more money. Another worker spends all his money in cigarettes, beer, gambling, and worthless gadgets. After several years, the worker who started investing became a millionaire and she doesn’t need to work as her assets produce more money. The other worker is now much older and will retire with nothing but a mountain of trash, forever dependent on his extended family and the government for money.
Those who use their minds and bodies well using the time they have become wealthier as they continue; those who don’t use their blessings well end up poor. That is how the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer. The poor can only improve their lives when they learn to use their skills and blessings well.
Putting it all together:
“The rich man’s wealth is his strong city; the poverty of the poor is their ruin.” – Proverbs 10:15 (ESV)
“A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” – Proverbs 10:4 (ESV)
“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” Matthew 25:29 (NLT)
Being rich or poor is different from being good or evil. Just as there are good rich people and good poor people, there are evil ones too. We need to forget the horrible idea that we need to be miserably poor in order to be virtuous. Poverty doesn’t make anyone good. The lack of money and resources just leads people to desperation and crime. Being rich, on the other hand, allows you to do greater things. As minister Russell H. Conwell (Free eBook from Amazon.com) said about money, “you ought to be reasonably ambitious to have it. You ought because you can do more good with it than you could without it.”
We all have a right to live a happy life, and it’s hard to live well when we’re suffering in poverty. If we ever want to live with abundance and prosperity, then we need to LEARN how to use our minds, bodies, and time well in order to EARN it.
“Poverty is a form of hell caused by man’s blindness to God’s unlimited good for him. You should be prosperous, well supplied and have abundance of good because it is your divine heritage. Your creator wants you that way.”
– Catherine Ponder