Hi friends and welcome back to another day in the study of Proverbs. We have 3 more days in proverbs - you're almost there! I invite you to continue to write down proverbs that stick out to you and keep them on your person. From a study perspective both today and especially tomorrow's reading have a common theme running through them. Can you try to identify any themes and come up with a theory on what was happening at the time to cause this to be wisdom? I'll share more down below on what I think.
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What does this reveal to me about wisdom?
What does the association between wisdom, prosperity and God teach me about the culture?
What stands the test as being wise even today? What no longer does?
- My Thoughts -
I've been pretty reluctant to share needless words on the proverbs because I find myself more often trying to find an underlying theme to the scripture in this section of the daily blog and if I can't find one I omit my thoughts. Proverbs up until today seemed to a directionless shotgun spread of wisdom that to be completely honest was just frustrating to read. Today a theme emerged leading me to want to go back and see if I had read too fast or my mind was too busy and I missed one. What was today's theme? Wealth.
Over and over the wisdom for today's reading was directed at wealth. Doing such and such leads to prosperity and this and that leads to poverty. A fool pays securities for a friends debt, the debtor is a slave to the lender, etc. This is by no means bad advice...pretty much any major personal finance expert (Dave Ramsey comes to mind as I just finished reading "Total Money Makeover") mentions these very topics in their wealth portfolios. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, also agreed with these notions. In fact, one of the requirements to be ordained is to not have any debts as Wesley understood that a person who is a slave to a lender cannot be a "slave" to God. In other words, when you're anxious about not having enough you can't live the generous life that God calls us to do.
But is debt different than it was for Wesley and the author of Proverbs? I don't know (truly I don't) but it certainly feels unavoidable. Sure, some are avoidable such as credit card's and personal expenses based on desire but what about the debts that are based on need? Medical debts are the highest cause of bankruptcy in this country right now. Can you imagine having to go bankrupt because you needed an operation to save your life? Absolute insanity. I remember when I first started ministry I was making $16,000 a year before taxes and at point I had to go the hospital because I kept fainting and my heart rate felt funny. Turns out I was just malnourished because I didn't make enough money to buy decent food with any nutrients in it. I got my hospital bill and after my parents insurance covered part of it I was left with a $5,000 bill. I just paid that off two years ago. Only reason I ever could was because I went full time but what about the millions of American's that live in poverty who are also forced to eat overpriced processed food from the fast food chains and corner stores and who face even larger bills than my own? What do people do after they get chemo and have hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical debt with interest? Well just go bankrupt and become a slave to yet another credit line with an even higher interest because you're a risky lender. According to the Bible this person would be a fool, but are they? Or are they victims of an exploitative system?
Generation Y and Z are both coming out of college as the highest indebted and conversely lowest paid generation in recorded history. And it's growing at a rapid rate! The average borrower has $32,000 - a 20% increase from just 5 years ago. 20% in 5 years?!!?! But of course this can happen because as more and more students accept that student loans are inedible the schools can increase their administrative costs each year without concern because the students are paying the tuition outright any longer. This vicious cycle continues until we have 20% increase in 5 years. UGHGUGHGUGHGUGHGUGHuGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I hate people that exploit people for personal gain. I personally carry $100k just from seminary alone and my seminary is just as guilty of the increasing cost. It's gone up by 20% in the last 10 years. Coincidence? Who knows. (Yes, I took on $100k debt at 6% interest to get a job that pays $30k before self employment taxes. Someone shoot me for being so dumb) A recent study showed that Gen Y and Z report being higher levels of anxiety and depression than other generations before them and have the least amount of savings as other generations with 14% reporting having zero in savings. To be fair, those that report having nothing in savings are reporting that they are paying down their debts before focusing on savings. It's easy to say that life sucks in your 20's and that we're just a bunch of snowflake pansies that need to grow up and stop whining...but this seems more systemic than self infliction to me. But who knows, maybe I'm just eating too much avocado toast. (*Cue eyeroll*)
One of the topics of discussion happening right now (Feb. 19th) is whether or not President Biden can use executive action to forgive about ~$10,000 of everyones student loans. As someone that spent most of his life as a conservative republican I cringe at this idea. But, I also think this is like putting a finding Nemo band-aid on a gun shot wound that went through a major artery. The interest is the issue, not the overall principle. That $10,000 is a drop in the bucket for the average borrower and will do little more than drop the average monthly payment by 50 bucks or so. It's useless and is going to cost the federal reserve an enormous amount of money to do - not to mention the money printer is still trying to cool down from the stimulus checks. We do not need financial relief from our government, we need financial reform. People are smart enough to take care of themselves when they aren't being oppressed by awful systems. Healthcare needs reformed. Student loans need reformed. The welfare system needs reformed. Our very concept of what makes someone "wise" and "foolish" needs revised until systemic problems are addressed.
If the Bible says that a wise person is financially stable then the United States has made a majority of American's unintended fools. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Our prayer today is inspired by hymn 160 in our United Methodist Hymnal - Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart. I invite you to hum, sing, and recite the words of the hymn as you do so. :) Lyrics can be found beneath the video.
1. Rejoice, ye pure in heart; rejoice, give thanks, and sing; your glorious banner wave on high, the cross of Christ your King.
Refrain: Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice, give thanks and sing.
2. Your clear hosannas raise, and alleluias loud; whilst answering echoes upward float, like wreaths of incense cloud. [Refrain] 3. Yes, on through life's long path, still chanting as ye go; from youth to age, by night and day, in gladness and in woe. [Refrain]
4. At last the march shall end; the wearied ones shall rest; the pilgrims find their heavenly home, Jerusalem the blest. [Refrain]
5. Praise God who reigns on high, the Lord whom we adore, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God forevermore. [Refrain]