This week’s Bible and Money focus is Proverbs 13:7…
Proverbs 13:7 paints an interesting picture of two kinds of people: Those who are rich, but you wouldn’t know it based on their lifestyle, and those who are poor but have the appearance of wealth.
“Some who are poor pretend to be rich; others who are rich pretend to be poor.” Prov. 13:7 (NLT )
Have you ever known someone who was poor but pretended to be rich? Not only have I known people like that, I’ve been like that myself! My wife and I often look back (and shake our heads) on times in our lives when we were trying to live above our means – and using debt to do it.
It’s easy to fall into the “buy now and pay later” trap if you don’t have a good financial plan in place. And it is easy to live above your means if you often compare yourself to others and think you can live at the same lifestyle level as your parents, older siblings, and friends.
Why do we do it? It could be because of greed, envy, or the thought that we’d be more cool or accepted by others if we lived a certain way.
Conversely, have you known of people who were really rich but few would guess it because they lived a modest lifestyle? I know several people like that, and am glad to count some of them as friends and mentors.
Dr. Thomas Stanley, in The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy and The Millionaire Mind, explains that there are plenty more rich people than we’re aware of, but we wouldn’t guess they were rich because they don’t live a “rich” lifestyle. Which explains, in part, how they became rich!
Late last year, one of our community’s most successful businessmen, Fred Meijer, died at the age of 91. He made billions in the grocery business started by his father in 1934, but you wouldn’t have known it based on his lifestyle. According to press reports, he typically drove an older car, and until he and his wife moved to a retirement community a few years ago, they lived in the same modest home they built in 1957.
In his latest book, Stop Acting Rich: …And Start Living Like A Real Millionaire, Dr. Stanley explains that you have to stop acting rich in order to start getting rich, and he shares strategies to escape the trap that many less afluent people fall into by thinking they can spend their way to wealth.
So why is this verse in the Bible?
I think God knew we’d struggle with comparing ourselves to others and looking at outward appearances, and that we’d get caught up with the trappings of wealth.
Proverbs 13:7 is a great reminder that true wealth isn’t about spending. It’s about creating and investing, which comes through discipline and living below your means.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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