My dad was a Master Sergeant in the army in Vietnam in the late ‘60s. He was stationed on a base, and one of his jobs was to process soldiers coming in from America and going home from Vietnam. He also processed guys who were going on R&R. This was tricky; the guys going on R&R would usually bring all the money they had, so my dad and the other personnel at the base had to be very careful about theft. They told every one of these soldiers to put their belongings in the safe. One guy didn’t trust them. He put all his money in a suitcase and chained it to his bed. The next day, my dad was called to investigate a theft. They found this guy in his underwear. Someone had snuck in while he slept and cut the suitcase at the handle. Everything he owned was gone. All he had left was his underwear and the handle of that suitcase.
It’s been said that money makes the world go ‘round…but money ends up making a fool out of most of us eventually. Some of us, like that guy on my dad’s army base, don’t listen to good advice; others are too naïve and trusting. Some of us are too conservative; others are too carefree. Even if we haven’t lost it all, been audited by the IRS, had to file bankruptcy or in some other way failed financially—even if you’ve never been made a fool of by money, I guarantee you know someone who has. We all have our stories. We’re in a series now called “Being Good at Life,” focused on the wisdom we find in the biblical book of Proverbs. If you’ve never read Proverbs, you might be surprised to find out it has an awful lot to say about money. Some of the stuff it says is basic common sense; when you read it, you nod your head and say, “Ain’t that the truth?” Other stuff it says just sounds exactly opposite what we would expect. It’s counter-intuitive. This Sunday, I won’t be able to cover everything Proverbs has to say about money, but I want to mention seven key teachings very briefly. As we study this together, my prayer is that many of us who find ourselves slaves to the ruthless taskmaster that is money and possessions will take the first step toward freedom.