Dinner with a Miser
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy, do not desire his delicacies, for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
Here is the third of three warnings about money in Proverbs 23. The first warning (vv. 1-3) emphasized the affections of the heart—what we want and why. Do not desire the delicacies of the ruler, we read—in other words, don’t fall in love with the good life. Not money, but the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils (1 Tim. 6:10)! The second warning (vv. 4-5) emphasized worldview—how we think about wealth. Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. Be discerning—don’t think about money the way everybody else does.
This third warning emphasizes integrity. Years ago, someone gave me some valuable advice: “Beware of the first person who invites you to lunch; they probably have an agenda.” Valuable advice—I know from experience. What appears to be a treat may be a trap; the buffet is the bait and you are the prey.
That’s because the man who is stingy never gives something for nothing. His free lunch is never free. He’s not hospitable or generous; he’s not kind or gracious; he’s not courteous or magnanimous. He’s giving something to get something: he is like one who is inwardly calculating . . . his heart is not with you (v. 7).
This warning cuts both ways, doesn’t it? Certainly it puts us on our guard against the hypocrisies and flatteries and promises of fake friends and everyday con-men. But what if we hold up a mirror and put down the magnifying glass? Would God count me among the stingy? Am I inwardly calculating, always thinking to myself, “what’s in it for me?” Do I give only to get something—whether respect or reward, approval or applause, position or praise? Jesus said, do not let you left hand know what your right hand is doing (Matt. 6:3).
Welcome to Christ Church this Lord’s Day. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord . . . he has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor (Ps. 112:1, 9).
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