The Book of Proverbs. Part 3.
Over the last 50 years the government has given £ billions to the poor in Britain. Yet millions are still trapped in various forms of poverty. The secular ambition to end poverty in Britain has failed. Why? Thankfully, God gives us some powerful insights that the secular world never talks about. The Book of Proverbs in the Bible shows us some of the different reasons why different people are stuck in poverty.
“The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” (Prov 22:7).
For many decades in Britain, governments of all parties have tried to stimulate the economy by encouraging people to borrow rather than save. They feared that if people save, they won't spend. If they don't spend, they won't buy stuff and if they don't buy stuff, then shops and factories will close. So far, they can pretend it has worked because the economy has grown. However, Britain now owes £1.43 trillion in personal debt. Average household debt is now £54,000 - double the level a decade ago. The average person in the UK owes the banks £8,000 (not including the mortgage).
Who benefited most from the new debt based economy? Who got their money back with all the additional interest? The ultra rich. The top 0.1% of UK earners, (just 47,000 people) saw their income rise by 64% over the last decade or so, while most people saw their incomes rise by just 7%. The top 0.1% includes the most famous celebrities from music, film, sport and TV and news. These are people who have done the most to create and shape our secular culture and guild popular thinking. When you hear them talking about helping the poor, aways remember this: What they tell you do with your money (and your vote) is not what they tell their accountants and investment consultants to do with their own money. Higher taxes are for other people. Tax loopholes are for the 0.1%. That's where their 64% pay rise came from.
Obviously, some people are forced into debt by an unexpected tragedy, but this doesn't account for most consumer debt. For generations, countless Christians managed to resist the temptation to borrow money to enjoy a brief escape from poverty because they understood, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” (Prov 22:7). They understood that “getting treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.” (Prov 21:6). They believed, “A rich man may be wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has discernment sees through him.” (Prov 28:11). Therefore they knew that “The wicked earns deceptive wages...” (11:18). They didn't believe the lies. Instead, they comforted themselves with this wisdom, “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” (Prov 16:8).
Creating the desire for more consumer debt
“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot.” (Prov 14:30)
One of the great blessing of knowing Jesus as Saviour and Lord is that He gives you “tranquility of heart.” He helps you find riches and pleasure in things that cannot be bought. Things like prayer and worship. Gratitude for what God has already given you. Hope in what God can do for you, in this life and in the life to come. Committed fellowship and friendship within a church. Our secular culture has deliberately tried things to convince everyone that these things are stupid. Our secular culture cannot promise you a tranquil heart but the hunger of the soul has remained. The hope of Jesus was replace with an envy that makes the bones rot.
Proverbs warns us, “The leech has two daughters. ‘Give! Give!’ they cry.” (Prov 30:15). The leech's first daughter gnaws at the soul. Advertising. Lifestyle magazines. TV programmes. Facebook, Snapchat and social media updates. They all work by stirring up enough envy for the leech's first daughter to cry, “Give! Give!” They all whisper to your soul, “They are happier than you are because they have what you don't have. If you had what they have, then other people would envy you. Then you would be happy. You can have it now if you borrow. Its only another £40 repayment per month. You can always borrow more money to meet the repayments.' The leech's first daughter lies on behalf of the leech's second daughter. Then it's the bankers turn to cry “Give! Give!”
Proverbs warns us, “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.” (Prov 23:17). Christians who believed this chose to find their riches in Christ instead. Rather than feeding the leech's two daughters, they starved them to death.
Blotting out pain by living for pleasure
“He who loves pleasure will become poor;
whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.” (21:17).
Our secular culture deliberately set out to “free” people from the “oppression” of the Christian family. Divorce was made easy. Sex and birth outside marriage were made socially acceptable. The State gave mums free flats and free handouts, on condition that they weren't married or didn't have a man to support them. As a result, countless numbers of people have grown up without their father providing for them and caring for them day by day. Now, as adults, they struggle with the emotional wounds caused by this massive social experiment. The pleasures of TV, music, video games, sex drink, and drugs are all used to numb the pain. Karl Marx once accused Christianity of being the “opium of the poor.” Our culture agreed with Marx and got rid of Christianity. Now heroin is the opium of the poor.
Gambling and the National Lottery.
“An inheritance [or “property”] quickly gained at the beginning
will not be blessed at the end.” (Prov 20:21).
Proverbs warns us, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” (Prov 13:11). God wants you to create wealth by doing or making something for other people that they value so much that they are willing to pay you for it. In this way, God makes sure that both sides are blessed by wealth creation. But in gambling, almost nobody wins more than they bet. Everyone else looses and they end up poorer as a result. Worse, 70 per cent of people who do win the lottery or unexpectedly come into large sums of money, lose it within seven years. Our culture rejected Christ and the wisdom of Proverbs and decided we knew better than God. By 1960 secularists had marginalised Christians far enough for Parliament to relax the gambling laws. By 2005 Christianity was irrelevant and the government was hungry enough for new taxes to allow the gambling industry to dictate the gambling laws. Now Britain has a million problem gamblers, while hardcore addicts have doubled in six years to almost half a million. Every year the gambling industry is £14 billion richer and all gamblers are £14 billion poorer. The government is now totally dependant on the £2.8 Billion that the gambling industry pays in taxes. They will not threaten this vital source of funds. They need it to buy the nation's votes with promises of more and better.
What can be done?
Proverbs tells all Christians, “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” (Prov 29:7). We must admit that the problems created by secularism and the government cannot be solved by secularism and the government. Jesus is still the answer to all these things and He wants to start with you. Before you can help anyone else escape the traps of poverty, you need to avoid them yourself. Then tell others, praying that they too will believe and change. This is how Jesus conquers kingdoms. One heart at a time. And when enough people stop feeding the leech's two daughters, they will starve them to death.