You might be asking, “what happened to part 2?” Part 1 was mistakenly saved as a draft instead of published, so Considering Proverbs and Work is actually part 2 of my review of A Proverbs Driven Life by Anthony Selvaggio. Did you catch that? Do you care?
The third part of the book addresses wealth. His little summary statement is : A Proverbs-Driven life understands the place and purpose of material wealth. This is much needed in our day and place. American Christians’ perspective on material wealth is only slightly less skewed than the average non-Christians’.
Selvaggio starts by addressing the heart. This is where all our problems with money and wealth come from- our bent toward selfishness.
“… money is not the basic problem at all, but rather our love for it. … The moral issues regarding wealth arise entirely from how we acquire it, relate to it, and use it. In other words, the problem is us.”
If you are going to come up with the right cure, you have to accurately diagnose the disease. And he does. He does some good plays on words: wealth is a poor source of happiness; wealth is a rich source of temptation; wealth is ultimately worthless. These are timely reminders in a recession. Sadly, lottery ticket sales have increased as people try to get rich quick, squandering what little wealth they may already have.
The financial scandals of the last year are not surprising. What is surprising is when Christians who head large organizations get caught up in these ponzi schemes. This happened in the 90′s (I think I have the time frame correct). Many Christian colleges, seminaries and parachurch ministries lost lots of money in a ponzi scheme. They acted foolishly- which ought to remind us that we are also prone to act foolishly.
“Dililgence, faithfulness, and patience, that is, to keep earning money consistently … to maintain a lifestyle that consumes less than you earn … to take that extra money and regularly add it to an investment that earns steady interest … and to resist the temptation to take any money out of that investment except for the purpose for which it was created.”
Steady interest… makes you think twice about the stock market. Was that a pipedream that became a drain, or is this just an anomaly? Hard to say, but I’m wishing I had my money in bonds and CDs right about now. It may take years for me to recoup losses I can’t bear.
But he also focuses on stewardship, using wealth for the right purposes. It is not just about attaining wealth. One of the reasons we are to give money away (tithes and offerings) is so we are reliant on God, not money, and to put our greed (idolatry) to death. Selvaggio makes some epochal adjustments so we can understand how to apply the OT lessons today (before you complain about the OT, re-read 2 Timothy 3:16-17 in which he was referring to the OT).
We’ve lost sight of the biblical perspective on giving because we’ve lost sight of the gospel. The Bible teaches gospel-generated generosity. We don’t give to earn favor, but because we see that Jesus impoverished Himself to make us spiritually rich. God enriches us, not so we can consume more, but fund mercy ministries and missions (among other things). So he discusses giving as a matter of priority and sacrifice.
Fools live above their means. Wise people live below their means. Obviously our circumstances may change. And we have to be willing to change our standard of living to reflect those changes. But too often we lock ourselves in to car payments, consumer debt and more so we can’t reduce our spending and adjust to changes in circumstances.
In his tackling wealth, Anthony Selvaggio is true to the Scriptures. He offers real hope to people out of control. He echoes the Scripture’s call back to wisdom- fiscal sanity (imagine if I tried to spend my way out of our personal recession). I hope many will read, and learn.