Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction:
but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured. (Proverbs 13:18)
Instruction is industrious. What we can draw from this verse is the certain poverty that befalls those who are too stubborn to be instructed. Whether it be a youth who attends school, a believer who attends church, or a tradesman who attends training classes, those who walk out on instruction discover that it is impossible to obtain and maintain wealth. This is what the Bible calls shameful poverty in this verse.
Caring for those who are legitimately poor is commanded throughout the Bible. In Leviticus 19:10, the Bible says, “And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.” In Leviticus 25:35 the Bible added, “And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.” In Psalm 41:1, David said, “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.” These verses and many others prove that God has a heart for the legitimately poor and expects His people to come to their aid. This type of poverty, however, is not the kind that is in discussion in our text.
The ingredients of shameful poverty are numerous. They include laziness, lethargy, slothfulness, excuse-making, procrastination, and other character flaws.
Poverty was especially shameful in the Old Testament because God forwarded a system for the special caretaking of the poor. God provided for the Old Testament Jews by giving them land as an inheritance. That land was theirs unless they fell on hard times and lost it. It might have been due to sickness, or death, or war, or famine, but often people of the Old Testament lost their inheritance because of laziness. When they could not pay their bills their land could be taken away as payment for delinquent debt.
There was, however, a way for them to get back on track even after losing everything. Every seventh year was called a year of jubilee. At the year of jubilee all lost lands were returned to their original owners. This allowed those who had experienced misfortune to reset their finances. It also permitted the slothful citizen to learn his lesson and have a second chance to capitalize on managing the resources God had given him wisely.
For this cause, those who remained in perpetual recurring poverty were considered especially shameful because they were consistently unwise with their resources. The solution to this problem was clearly taught in Proverbs.
The Shamefully Poor Should Be Made to Earn Everything
Santa Clause is for children. When you grow up you realize that things will not be freely given over to you without labor and productivity. Government welfare is not the solution to poverty. It has created more shameful poverty than anything else in America. Even those with partial disabilities can be productive in some way. Learn to earn and you will have a since of accomplishment in life that will catapult you into the stratosphere of productivity.
The list of trades in the Bible is long:
Binder of Sheaves
Maker of Lamps
Hewer of Wood
Drawer of Water
Worker in Brass
King’s Forest Keeper
Security System Installer
The Shamefully Poor Should Be Deliberately Denied
In II Thessalonians 3:10 the Apostle Paul said, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” There were those in the church at Thessalonica who were so fixated on the coming of the Lord that they excused themselves from working. The Apostle Paul clearly stated that those people were not worthy of the financial care of the church. In fact, he stated that they should be deliberately denied sustenance as a lesson on personal responsibility. Paul insinuated here that if these slothful men got hungry enough they would do something about it. They will be forced to be productive when they get hungry.
The Shamefully Poor Should be Taught a Trade
Every man should have a money-making trade. Even those who preach the Gospel are expected to have a money-making trade that they can rely on when times are lean in ministry. The Apostle Paul was a tentmaker. Every man has been given the ability to make a living for himself, for his family and additionally, enough to help someone who has experienced an unforeseen circumstance that has caused them to suffer poverty. This can only be accomplished if the shamefully poor have learned the following lessons about employment:
Get Up – Proverbs 6:9, How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
Show Up – Ecclesiastes 3:17b, . . . for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.
Hurry Up – Colossians 3:23, And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Shut Up – Proverbs 14:23, In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.
Grow Up – 1 Corinthians 13:11, When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Push Up – Exodus 17:12, But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.Move Up – Proverbs 12:24, The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.