April 1st, 2009
Focus Text: Proverbs 13: 11 (NLT)
11 Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears;
wealth from hard work grows over time.
Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead
I can’t check my email without receiving hundreds . . . that’s right . . . hundreds of bogus spam messages every week promising that I can make thousands of dollars with little-to-no effort on my end. Society has portrayed wealth as an exclusive system of haves and have-nots; and the haves have conspired against the have-nots to make sure that they never learn the “secrets” to making lots of money.
It’s like there’s some mysterious magic formula to extravagant wealth that only the insiders know about. That’s why we call it the “secret” to wealth. Magazines parade these ideas and television commercials promise us that a lavish lifestyle of wealth is just outside our grasp. Just like the components of a car engine, we only need to get that one right part installed and presto, this baby will drive us straight to Park Place and Boardwalk.
So we beat on this “engine” like we sometimes are tempted to hit our computers when that spinning hourglass of death (or pinwheel if you’re living in Mac bliss) threatens to send you on a shooting spree. In your logical mind, you know that smacking that laptop won’t make it process the information any quicker; but the temptation to give it a good whack is still there. It’s the same driving force that screams at us to kick that old copier at work when it misfeeds for the thirty-fourth time in the past half-hour. Sure, it probably won’t fix the problem, but we are desperate. Just do something and maybe it will all just work out perfect!
That’s what get-rich-quick schemes are like. When we give our time and energy to an endeavor or investment that promises instant results with nominal work, we are simply kicking the proverbial copier of our financial frustration. We hope that we will somehow jar something loose inside this complex mystery called money and that just like in the movies, a good whack of a hammer will start the car in just the nick of time.
This far-fetched philosophy has so permeated our culture that college-aged individuals are often skipping out on conventional education or job training in favor of a faster and more “exotic” pathway to fathomless wealth. At the end of the day, ninety-nine percent of these endeavors just don’t work. Just like that shiny machine at the pizza restaurant where within the metal claw entices children with the unspoken promise that another quarter will guarantee the stuffed animal’s capture . . . it just ain’t happening . . . no matter how many quarters you drop in.
Apparently, these the get-rich-quick mindset isn’t new; just listen to this passage written about three-thousand years ago. “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.” Simple. Direct. True. Unpopular.
Financial experts have released statistics that the average millionaire in the United States lives in an older, three bedroom home and drives a used car. Every once in a while, my path will intersect one of these types of millionaires. They’re usually frugal. Generous. Simple. Still wearing overalls and working in their own yards. Wealth doesn’t own them; they own it and use it to better the world.
Furthermore, they didn’t get rich through unexpected inheritances from long lost relatives, the lottery, or even fancy business schemes that made them overnight successes. Most of them just worked hard and spent and saved their money with godly wisdom. They sacrificed. They lived below their means. Instead of going out to restaurants, they ate most of their meals at home and they found contentment in the blessings of their lives rather than the size of their bank accounts. Most importantly: if they didn’t have it, they didn’t spend it. Revolutionary, I know.
They didn’t spend their lives kicking the next copier or hammering their car engines; they just worked hard and learned to be wise stewards of the favor that God granted them. Faithfulness in little means we have the trustworthiness to be faithful with much.
I’m not there and I’ve yet to get rich quick. If one is not careful, they’ll spend their entire lives waiting for the next scheme to come to fruition when a simple lifestyle of consistent hard work coupled with some godly financial wisdom would have brought them to their goals in half the time . . . and with twice the intrinsic and spiritual reward. Even if the financial dividends don’t exceed one’s wildest dreams, the spiritual dividends yield eternal rewards.
Put that in your infomercial.