“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:10-11; 24:33-34)
Repetition in Scripture is a mark of a significant event, doctrine, or truth. The fact that the history of Israel in Kings is recounted in Chronicles should impress us to pay attention to the events as markers of God’s purposes and intentions for his people. In Proverbs, there are many repeated sayings, but we must be careful when interpreting them since it would be easy to either over-spiritualize them or take them too literally. Proverbs 6:10-11 is repeated word-for-word in 24:33-34; both teach us to avoid slothfulness in our handling of spiritual wisdom, instruction from the Bible, and material resources. The sluggard will receive what he earned—poverty. As I have pointed out repeatedly because the Bible does so, God graciously gives us the resources we need for this life and it is up to us to use them knowledgeably. We should work on our sanctification with God’s help, invest in others materially and spiritually, and labor to glorify God. A believer who thinks he is only taking a little break or getting a little sleep has developed a lifestyle of slothfulness.
The parable of the nobleman and the minas in Luke 19 contrasts the responses of three servants who are given various amounts by their master to invest while he is away (Luke 19:11-27). Let’s not take the following notes as the main lesson from this parable. Every parable in the Bible has one central point, and the teaching of this one summarized broadly is that Jesus will return after being away and hold believers accountable for their handling of spiritual truths, gospel, and knowledge of Christ while he has been away. What you and I know and believe is not to be hidden or hoarded but shared, like a lamp that lights the darkness for others, witnessing for Christ.
Yet, being tenacious about the importance of our biblical worldview, I repeat that all we do in this life should reflect our faith in Jesus Christ and the fact that God is the Creator and source of all truth and life, both physical and spiritual. Therefore, what we do with our money and possessions that he provides witnesses to our agreement with his sovereignty, goodness, and generosity. In the parable of the minas, two of the servants invested their master’s funds to make a profit while the third did nothing with his. “Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’” (Luke 19:19-23)
The third servant was slothful, not willing even to take his master’s money to the bank. Why he did this, we do not know, but his behavior should cause us to examine our negligence of the purposeful use of our material resources. Was he jealous and covetous of the greater funds given to the other two servants? Did he think his master was withholding his rightful due? Was he so full of self-pity from comparing his gift to the others that he was frozen and couldn’t act wisely? Do any of these feelings affect the handling of our finances?
Let’s examine our attitudes toward God about what we have been given to make the best use of our finances. We act on what we believe to be true about him. When we are fully convinced that God is good and generous, we will use our resources wisely.