經文﹕箴言 30 ﹕ 7-9
題目﹕金錢與你 ( 二 )
38 歲的 Annie Donnelly 是紐約州 Farmingville 的一家公司的會計師﹐同時她也是三個孩子的母親。 在大約三年半的時間裡﹐她從公司的帳上非法挪用了 230 萬美元。她需要那麼多錢做什麼﹖買彩票。 Annie 每天花 6000 美元買彩票﹐夢想有朝一日能夠中得大獎。我們不知道她究竟有沒有中獎﹐但是可以肯定地說﹐她將在監獄裡度過 4-12 年的時間。是怎麼回事﹖她的生命和思想整日圍繞著金錢打轉﹐心靈被金錢完全控制和驅使。最終﹐人生也被金錢所摧毀。
但是﹐從上週對於 < 箴言 > 的學習中﹐我們看到的卻是相反的內容。金錢是上帝所委託我們的﹐所以我們要成為管理錢財的忠心管家。金錢本身不是罪惡﹐我們應該誠實和勤奮地賺錢。運用金錢撫養家人﹐幫助窮人和奉獻與神。只要有適當的優先次序﹐我們可以歡喜地享受神所賜的錢財。
我們都知道擁有金錢可以讓物質生活變得舒適一點。有了錢﹐我們可以購買那些曾經不敢奢望的東西。有了錢﹐我們可以多一點去餐館吃飯或是去旅遊。但是﹐金錢不是萬能的﹐它不能買到別人 ( 甚至是我們的家人 ) 對我們的愛。金錢也無法換來家庭的和諧。相反﹐它卻可能成為衝突和關係破裂的導火線。我們都還記得﹕當我們貧窮的時候﹐生活困難﹐但是這樣的生活卻令我們靠神更近。貧窮會讓我們學會珍惜所擁有的一切﹕一杯白水﹐偶爾去餐廳吃頓飯或者在一家二手商店買的新衣服。在我們物質貧乏的時候﹐生活的確簡單﹐精神卻更加富裕。
今天早上﹐我們要繼續從 < 箴言 > 學習﹐如何成為一個更好的管理金錢的忠心管家。
我們有時聽到別人問﹕“為什麼社會上有那麼多富人和窮人﹖上帝公平嗎﹖”讓我們看看 < 箴言 > 是如何回答這個問題的。
1 勤奮﹐正義 與 懶惰﹐罪惡
(10 ﹕ 3-4) “耶和華不容許義人抵受飢餓，惡人的慾念卻無法得著。遊手好閒的，招致貧窮，勤力工作的，得到富足。” (28 ﹕ 19) “耕種自己田地的，必有充足糧食；追求虛幻的，必飽受窮乏之苦。” (13 ﹕ 25) “義人必吃得飽足，惡人卻空著肚子。”從這幾節經文中﹐我們看到﹕有時候﹐貧窮或者富有取決于我們的行為是否符合正義﹐工作是否勤奮。 Osela McCarty 是一個普通的洗衣工﹐她在六年級的時候就輟學開始工作。她在自己家裡幫別人洗衣服﹐燙衣服整整 75 年。最早的時候﹐她洗一筐衣服收取客人 1.5 到 2 美元。隨著通貨膨脹率的上漲﹐她曾經洗一籃衣服收取 10 元。 Osela 的生活節儉並將金錢積蓄起來。在 1995 年退休的時候﹐她已經有了 25 萬美元的存款。
在銀行人員詢問她打算如何處置這筆存款的時候﹐他們不得不使用 10 個銅板來向她演示什麼叫做百分比。
(13 ﹕ 23) “窮人的耕地可產大量糧食，卻因不義都被摧毀了。” (22 ﹕ 16) “欺壓窮人為要增加自己財富的，送禮給財主的，必致窮乏。”這對貧窮和富有的教導是什麼﹖很明顯﹐貧窮可能是由于社會的不公平和欺壓所導致的。在二十世紀初的歐洲﹐資本家通過欺壓和剝削工人累積了大量個人財富。當時的工場生產環境極其簡陋﹐勞動力非常低廉。因此﹐在僱主和工人之間形成了一個財富上的鴻溝。這也直接造成了共產主義思潮的形成和傳播。
即使在近代﹐我們也目睹同樣的現象。在許多亞洲國家﹐許多工人有很長工作時間 , 低薪水為西方公司工作 . 我們很高興地看到許多國家已經通過法律手段保護工人的生產條件。但是﹐即使在紐約﹐我們仍然看到許多從亞洲來的新移民在環境惡劣的環境裡拼命工作﹐拿到手的確是最低工資。最近幾年來﹐在休斯頓也有一些錯待非法移民的現象。
(20 ﹕ 24) “人的腳步是由耶和華所定，人怎能明白自己的道路呢？” (19 ﹕ 14) “房屋與財富是祖宗遺留的產業；唯有明慧的妻子是耶和華所賜的。”有時候﹐神所賜的超過我們的基本需要。可能是意外的加薪﹐獎金或者從親人那裡得到的遺產繼承。
我對繼承遺產的問題有些意見。上個星期的主日講道中﹐我們看了這段經文﹕ (13 ﹕ 11) “不勞而獲的財物，必快減少……”我們經常聽到父母說﹕“我死了以後﹐一切都是你的了。”我們需要思考一下﹕把一大筆財富作為遺產留給孩子是否是個明智的決定﹖這麼做是會幫助他們成為勤奮和誠實的人還是給他們製造更多麻煩﹖許多家長﹐包括不少富有的人士﹐已經決定在死后將財產捐給慈善機構。他們這麼做的理由是﹕孩子們需要靠自己的能力去生活。
我們需要牢記﹕在我們的財富上﹐掌權的是上帝。上帝來決定要將多少的財富給誰。 ( 約伯記 1 ﹕ 21) “我赤身出於母胎，也必赤身歸去。賞賜的是耶和華，收回的也是耶和華；耶和華的名是應當稱頌的。”你可能並不富有﹐是因為上帝知道你不善於管理金錢。他如此的安排是為了不讓我們陷入誘惑的陷阱。
如果靠著神的恩典﹐我的經濟狀況比別人優越﹐這是我們所需要知道的﹕ (10 ﹕ 22) “耶和華所賜的福使人富足，並不加上愁煩。” ( 約伯記 1 ﹕ 21) “我赤身出於母胎，也必赤身歸去。賞賜的是耶和華，收回的也是耶和華；耶和華的名是應當稱頌的。”我們一定要記住﹕我所有的一切都是耶和華神的所賜。沒有什麼是我可以誇耀的。明白了這一點﹐那麼就不需要向別人吹噓自己選擇的股票和基金是多麼明智和慧眼獨具﹐購買的新房是多麼划算﹐僅僅通過自己簡單的裝飾後又賣出﹐賺了一大筆錢。這些本身是沒問題 , 但 不是我們應該誇口的。
我們還是要回到 < 約伯記 > 的教導。賜予我們財富的是上帝。 (16 ﹕ 8) “收入少而有公義，勝過收入多卻毫無正義。” (19 ﹕ 1) “行為完全的窮人，勝過說話欺詐的愚昧人。” (22 ﹕ 1) “名譽勝過多財，恩寵勝過金銀。”我們從這幾節經文裡學到什麼功課﹖雖然身處貧窮的處境﹐我們要持守生活的優先次序﹕有公義﹐為人誠實﹐有好名譽。這些是生活中重要的事。你希望在死后別人如何記念你﹖是一個有錢人﹔他是一家大公司的 CEO ﹔或者他是一個誠實﹐正直的好人﹖
讓我們看看 < 羅馬書 >12 ﹕ 15, “要與喜樂的人一同喜樂，與哀哭的人一同哀哭。”我們可以將這個教導運用在如何對待別人的財富上。
a. 與人同樂。說說容易﹐做起來可就難了。你剛知道同事升薪水了﹐可是你卻沒有份。你工作同樣賣力﹐業績不比他遜色﹐但是他的薪水卻漲了﹐你的卻沒有變化﹐更氣人的是﹕他甚至不是個基督徒。你心裡會酸酸的吧﹖每個人都喜歡跟別人比。在美國﹐有一個不錯的社會習俗﹕我們不詢問別人賺多少錢。我們都想知道他賺多少錢 . 除了好奇心之外 , 也有比較的心態 . 在 Narnia 的故事裡有這麼一個情節﹕ Shasta 正和獅子 Aslan 說話﹐她想知道為什麼有些事情會發生在其他某人身上。 Aslan 說“孩子﹐我只講你自己的故事﹐不要牽涉別人。我只對人們講他們自己的事。”在 < 約翰福音 >21 章裡也記錄了這麼一個故事。耶穌正在海邊和彼得談話。彼得回身看到約翰在他們後面﹐於是問“主啊﹐這個人將來怎麼樣﹖”耶穌回答他﹕“如果我要他活到我來的時候﹐跟你有什麼關係呢﹖你只管跟從我吧 ! ” 簡單地說﹕別多管閒事。不要和別人攀比。求神幫助我們﹐分享別人的快樂 , 與人同樂 .
為何不容易與別人的財富感到高興﹖因為內心的嫉妒在作祟了。 (14 ﹕ 30) “心裡平靜，可使身體健康；但嫉妒能使骨頭朽爛。” (24 ﹕ 19-20) “不要因作惡的人心懷不平，也不要嫉妒惡人。因為惡人必沒有好結局，惡人的燈必要熄滅。”聖經給我們什麼教導﹖不要嫉妒有錢人。不要嫉妒用不合適的手段發財的人。為什麼呢﹖嫉妒會使骨頭朽爛。它會損害你的健康。讓神來處理。
b. 與人同哭。 (22 ﹕ 2) “世上有財主，也有窮人，兩者都是耶和華所造的。”聖經再一次提醒我們﹕富人和窮人都是上帝所造的。我們沒有資格去問上帝為什麼賜財富給這個人卻讓另一個人一貧如洗。我們的責任是同情窮人﹐幫助有困難的人們。
< 箴言 > 對於有滿足的心有許多教導。
(4 ﹕ 23) “你要謹守你的心，勝過謹守一切，因為生命的泉源由此而出。” (25 ﹕ 16) “你找到蜂蜜，吃夠就好了；免得吃得過多，就嘔吐出來。”這幾節經文告訴我們滿足于已有的一切是十分重要的。 < 箴言 > 又是如何形容“不滿”的呢﹖ (27 ﹕ 20) “陰間和滅亡不會滿足，人的眼目也是一樣。”在其他經文裡﹐也提到烈火和乾涸的土地也不會得滿足。
我們都知道當我們時常不能滿足於已有的經濟狀況 , 會導致婚姻和人際關係的衝突。學習擁有一顆知足的心是很必要的。接下來的禱告就可以作為我們學習的開始。 (30 ﹕ 7-9) “我有兩件事求你，在我死去以前，求你答應我。求你使虛假和謊言遠離我；不要使我貧窮，也不要使我富裕，只要給我需用的食物。免得我吃飽了，就不認你，說：‘耶和華是誰？’又恐怕我貧窮，就偷竊，污瀆了我 神的名。”這個禱告的內容是不言自明的。
從今天早上所學的 < 箴言 >, 我們知道富有和貧窮的原因。有時候﹐財富來自于勤奮﹐誠實和公義的工作﹔有時候卻是相反﹐有些人通過不公平和欺壓的手段致富。但最重要的是﹕給予和拿走的都是上帝。我們要學習用謙卑的心來對待自己的富有和貧窮﹐對別人的富有與貧窮 , 要有一顆寬廣的胸懷﹐並學習時常知足。
剛才﹐我提到了洗衣工 McCarty 女士。在她 1995 年退休的時候﹐已經累積了 25 萬美元的財產。她是如何處置這筆錢的呢﹖她對於 25 萬美元沒有什麼概念。於是﹐銀行工作人員用 10 個銅板跟她解釋百分比的意義。她拿出一個銅板給她的教會﹐給自己的親人留下幾個銅板。但是她強調一定要給 Southern Mississippi 大學 6 個銅板。她說﹕“我要幫助一些人的孩子上大學。我希望這些錢能夠交到一些懂得珍惜的人手中。”
Text: Proverbs 30:7-9
Title: Money Matters (II)
Theme: Since God has entrusted to us our financial resources, we are to be faithful stewards by managing them with wisdom.
Annie Donnelly, 38, a bookkeeper and mother of three from Farmingville , N.Y. , for over a period of 3 ½ years had stolen $2.3 million from her employer. What did she do with it? She spent the money on buying lottery tickets, buying as much as $6000 a day to hit the jackpot. It is not clear how much, if any, she won. But one thing for sure, she would spend 4 to 12 years in prison. What happened here? Her life and thoughts circled around money. She was driven, controlled by money, and in the end, she was ruined by it.
However, in our study of Proverbs last Sunday we learned just the opposite. We are to be stewards, good managers of the money and financial resources God has given to us. We learned that money itself is not evil. It is to be earned honestly and diligently. Money is used to provide for our families, to help the poor and offer to God. With proper priority, we can certainly enjoy what God has given us without guilt.
We know and may have experienced that having money is an advantage in life. We can do and buy things that otherwise we won’t be able to do so. We can eat out more than when we have little money. However, we also know that money is not a cure all. Money can not cause someone, or even our family members to love us. Money cannot bring harmony to a family; on the other hand, it is often the cause of conflicts and broken relationships. We all remember a time when we had little money, life was difficult, yet it drew us closer to God. Poverty at times also helps us to appreciate the little we have in life; a glass of water, that occasional eating out and new clothes in a second hand store. Our life was simpler and more enriched in those days.
This morning we want to continue to learn from the book of Proverbs, how we can become better stewards of the financial resources God has given us.
I. We are to be faithful stewards by understanding the causes of Wealth and Poverty.
We sometimes hear others or ourselves ask, “how come so many in our society are poor while others are wealthy? Is God fair?” Let’s see how the book of Proverbs address this issue.
1. Diligence, righteousness vs Laziness and sinfulness.
10:3-4, “ 3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. 4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. ” 28:19, “ 19 Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty . ” 13:25, “ 25 The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want. ” From these verses we learn there are times a person’s wealth is the result of doing the right thing or being diligent. Miss Osela McCarty was a washerwoman. She had to quit school when she was in the 6 th grade. Customers brought their washing and ironing to her home for more than 75 years. In the beginning, she charges $1.50 to $2 a bundle. With inflation, she was charging $10. She lived modestly and save her money. By the time she retired at 86 in 1995, she had accumulated about $250,000.
When the bank asked her what to do with her money, they have to demonstrate her planning with 10 dimes to show what percentage means.
On the other hand, these verses also points out often because of sins and laziness we can squander all our wealth. Several months ago I share with you how a multimillion dollar man in china, wasted all his wealth in less than 10 years and ended up as a homeless person.
2. Oppression and injustice.
13:23, “ 23 The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food,
but it is swept away through injustice ” 22:16, “ 16 Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty. ” What do we learn about wealth and poverty. It is quite clear that often poverty is a result of oppression and injustice in a society. We can think of during the early 1900, in Europe , how the have’s keep accumulating wealth at the expanse of the poor. Poor working conditions and low pay. Thus creating a big gap between the workers and the owners. This in turn bred and cause the spread of Communism.
Even in recent history we still witness this. In many Asian countries, we see workers laboring long hours, making products to be sold at US and other western countries. We are glad to see laws have been passed to improve the conditions of such sweat shops. However, even in NY city, we still have such sweat shops where Asian immigrants work hard at less than minimum wage. In recent years, there is also the issue of how we treat illegal immigrants in our country.
Injustice and oppression cause poverty and this is not pleasing to God.
3. God's mysterious provision.
20:24, “ 24 A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way ？ ” 19:14, “ 14 House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord. ” There are times God provides with financial resources beyond our basic needs. It could be that unexpected raise or bonus or an inheritance from parents or close relatives.
I want to make a comment on inheritance. Last Sunday we looked at a passage about quick wealth, 13:11, “ 11 Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,
but whoever gathers little by little will increase it ； ….”. Often we hear Chinese parents saying, “after I die, all these will go to you.” We need to think is it wise by giving our children a very large sum of money. Will it help them to be more diligent and honest or will it create more problems for them. Many parents, including some with large amount of wealth have decided that most of their money will go to charity after they die. The philosophy behind this is that children should earn their own living.
It is good for us to remember God's sovereignty cover our financial matters. It is God who decides what and how much to give to who. Job 1: 21, “ 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” You may not have that much money because God knows that you cannot handle wealth. This is his way of not leading you into temptations.
II. We are to be faithful stewards by developing Proper Attitude towards money.
Last Sunday we learned that one attitude we need to have towards money is that wealth itself is not evil. This morning we want to go one step further in looking at our attitude.
1. There must be humility towards personal wealth and poverty.
If in God's providence, I have been given more money and financial resources than others, this is what I need to know. 10:22, “ 22 The blessing of the Lord makes rich,
and he adds no sorrow with it 。 ” Job 1:21, “ 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. ” I have to remember that all that I have is from God. There is nothing to brag about; I don’t need to tell others how wise and smart I am to watch what stocks to buy or sell, or how good I am at buying old houses, renovate them and then turn around and sell it for profit. There is nothing wrong with them, but there is no need to brag about it.
Now, if I am poor, or don’t have much money, what should my attitude be? Yes, I am diligent, honest and righteous in working and making a living, yet my salary still stay at that level.
Again, we need to remember the words of Job. It is God who gives. And there is more. 16:8, “ 8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.
” 19:1, “ 1 Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool. ” 22:1, “ 1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
and favor is better than silver or gold. ” What we learn from this? In the midst of poverty, we are to know and uphold proper priority in life: To do justice, to be a person of integrity and a good name. These are important things in life. How do you want to be remembered after you die? He was a very wealthy man. He was the CEO of a large company. Or he was a man of integrity, a honest and a good man?
2. There must be a big heart towards others’ circumstance.
Lets take a look at Romans 12:15, “ 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. ” We can certainly apply this to others’ wealth and poverty.
a. Rejoice with others. Boy, this is easier said than done, right? You just find out your colleague got a big raise but not you. You work just as hard as he did, you perform just as good, if not better than him, but he got the raise and not you, and beside, he is not even a Christian. You feel sour in side, right? We like to compare ourselves with others. I think it is good that in this country, one of the social customs is that you don’t ask people how much they earn. The motive behind this is not only curiosity, but comparison too. There is this story in Narnia: Shasta was talking to the Lion, Aslan. She wanted to find out who and why certain things happen to another being. Aslan said, “Child I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no-one any story but his own. Then we also remember the incident recorded in John 21. Jesus was talking to Peter on the beach. Peter turned around and saw John behind them, so he asked, “ 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, "“If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” . In short, mind your own business!! J Don’t compare ourselves with others. Ask God to help us to rejoice with others.
What happens when we can’t rejoice with others’ wealth? There is envy, right? 14:30, “ 30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. ” 24:19-20, “ 19 Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, 20 for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out. ” What does the Bible say? Don’t envy those with money. Don’t envy those who gain their money in the wrong way. Why, envy will rotten your bones. Envy can paralyze you, it is not good for you. Let God handles it.
b. Weep with others. 22:2, “ 2 The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all. ” Again, it reminds us that God created both the rich and poor. It is not our responsibility to ask why God gives money to this and not that person. Our responsibility is to show compassion to the poor, to help those in need.
As a church we are constantly brought to our attention people with special needs and financial hardships. And we try to do our best to help them in an appropriate way. I think of a church in upper Manhattan . The congregation consists of many professionals in their 30’s. This and other churches take turn to open their building once a month to feed and help the homeless.
III. We are to be faithful stewards by learning to be Content with what we have.
Proverbs have much to say about contentment.
4:23, “ 23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. ” 25:16, “ 16 If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it. ” these verses tell us about the importance of being content with what we have. How does proverb describe discontent? 27:20, “ 20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man. ” I n other passages it also mentions that fire, a dry land are never satisfied.
We have all seen how discontent with what we have financially, will bring conflict into marriage and relationship with others. Certainly we are to learn to be content. this following prayer is a starting point. 30:7-9, “ 7 Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: 8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. ” This is quite clear, isn’t it?
What matters in life is not how much money you and I have. We are to make sure that we are not being controlled and managed by money. Money is not to be the driving force in life. If we are driven and controlled by money, it will eventually destroy relationships and family harmony. On the contrary, money is given to us so we can manage it as God's faithful stewards.
From the Proverbs we studied this morning, we learn the different causes of wealth and poverty. Sometimes it is through diligence, honesty and righteousness, or the opposite. Sometimes it is cause by injustice and oppression. Above all, it is God who gives and takes away. We learn to be humble towards our own wealth and poverty, to have a big heart towards others wealth and poverty, and the challenge to be content with what God has given us.
Yes, with a sermon subject like this, different people will need to reflect on different aspect of wealth and poverty. However, I want to go back to a theme of what we do with what we have.
Early, I mentioned Miss McCarty, the washerwoman. When she retired in 1995, she had accumulated $250,000. What did she do with her money? She couldn’t understand what $250,000 means. So the bank helps her with planning with 10 dimes to show what percentage means. She gave 1dime to her church, a couple of dimes to her relatives. But she was sure to give 6 dimes to Southern Mississippi U. She said, “I want to help somebody’s child go to college, I just want it to go to someone who will appreciate it and learn.”
She is a wise person who knows how to manage what she had.
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