The Responsibility of Riches


It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor; blessed are those who help the poor.

~Proverbs 14:21, NLT


Doing the right thing may be costly in the present but doing what is wrong will cost much more in the long run.


Like Psalms and the sermon on the mount, Proverbs has it’s beatitudes and today’s verse is number four. The Proverbial Beatitudes are:

  • Blessed is he who finds wisdom [3:13]
  • Blessed is he who keeps the ways of wisdom [8:12]
  • Blessed is he who listens to wisdom [8:34]
  • Blessed is he who is gracious to the poor [14:21]
  • Blessed is he who puts his trust in the LORD [16:20]
  • Blessed is he whose father walks in integrity [20:7]
  • Blessed is he who always fears the LORD [28:14]
  • Blessed is he who keeps the law [29:18]

With great riches comes greater responsibility and usually greater anxiety. Being kidnapped and held for ransom never worries a poor man [Proverbs 13:8, TLB]. June use to participate in the Ed McMahon sweepstakes, hoping to win the ten million dollars. I told her more than once, “Winning that much money would ruin your life.” She never believed me. If suddenly, you won a billion dollars, you would have relatives come out of the woodwork. You know the old saying, “Where there is a will, there is relatives.” With that much money, you wouldn’t know who were real friends. You would be like the prodigal, surrounded by so-called friends wanting to help you spend your money. But this is the tip of the iceberg; the big thing would be your social obligation. Jesus said in Luke 12:48, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” How should you use your wealth to help the community, the church and your neighbors?Many wealthy people become selfish and miserly; instead of giving more, they give less. Not all, but most wealthy people become guarded, very protective because they fear losing their money. I have lived for 68 years and I have never went to beg worried about losing my money. I found out today, that I lost 20 thousand dollars in one month. The stock market took a nose dive. It’s God’s money so why should I worry about it.

There is a lot in Proverbs about lazy people and there are a lot of lazy people but there is also a lot in Proverbs about greed. Proverbs 15:27 for example: Greed brings grief to the whole family. Greed is like jealously; it is never confessed. In 49 years of ministry, I have never had one person confess either. We refuse to confess jealously because it makes us look small and we refuse to confess greed because it blinds us. Greedy people don’t see their own greed. Recently I went to a football game at a private school. I had to pay $5 to park and another $8 to get into the game. I was a bit taken back when I saw a multi-millionaire, wearing a silly looking apron and taking up money for parking. I thought to myself, “What a moron! You could give this school a ten million dollar trust which would earn for more than what you are taking up for parking [from poor folks] and you would never have to wear that stupid apron again.” This is how a poor proud man thinks but it is not how the rich think. The greedy with gravel for more. It’s rather ironic that a millionaire would fleece me for $5 but trust me, it doesn’t bother them in the least. I personally, refuse to live this way.

Woman In Rags Revealed

A woman was picked up by police at a shopping mall in Delray Beach, Florida because she was going through the garbage behind one of the stores. This was her normal routine. She collected old food from garbage and carried it back to her two room apartment where she stored it. When the police got to the apartment, they could not endure the smell. Her frig was packed with old food stuff and so was her bathtub. She was a miser and a hoarder. There was no place to sit or lay in her apartment from the piles of rubbish she had collected. Thinking she was a nuisance to herself, they turned her over to social services and began cleaning out her apartment and this is what they found:

  • She was the daughter of a wealthy lawyer from Chicago who had died several years before and was an heiress to a fortune
  • They found $400,000 worth of Mobil Oil stocks
  • They found 8 passbook accounts to 8 different banks
  • They found deeds to oil wells in Kansas
  • They found stock for U.S. Steel, Uniroyal and Squibb

In other words, the woman was a multi-millionaire and was living like a pauper. Before you laugh, understand this, there are people right here in the Danville area who live the same way. They have enough money to burn a wet mule and they live like paupers. Why? You tell me because I cannot figure it out. Solomon discussed this problem in Ecclesiastes 2:18-26 and came to the conclusion that the best thing the rich can do is enjoy their money while they are able and not worry about their heirs. Joe David says his ‘will’ will read like this: “Being of sound mind and body, Your mama and I spent it all!”

Several years ago, I young man said to me, “my life goal is to be a giver and not a miser. I know my wife and I waste a little money on frivolous things but far worse to me is to be smitten by the greed bug.” Oh, that men would fear greed like this young man. Fight greed. This is why we take so many offerings at DBC: its to help folks fight their greed. My rule of thumb is: every time the plate goes by, I put something in it. Sometimes that is pocket change but giving is a sure fire way to counter our greed and there is a greedy little man living in all of us. Don’t give in to him, he’ll ruin your life.

Some of you probably think that I am hard of Jews and Blacks but here are two that I admire which proves that I am not a racist. Watch and learn…

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