27 Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.
Proverbs 24:27 (NLT)
Proverbs 24:27 is another financial planning verse we can benefit from. In this verse God wants us to plan. We must place a higher priority in our “fields” over “house” in our plans for our future. What do “fields” and “house” mean in the above context and can we benefit from the above advice? We shall look deeper into it in this article.
Proverbs 24:27 was written in an agricultural background where people did farming for a living. The term “building your house” may suggest that the recipients of this verse might not be living in houses. They could have been living in tents. So, building a house to live in is an upgrade to them. Living in a house will not only improve their standard of living but it will also show that they have reached the next level, from being tent dwellers to become house owners. Today’s equivalent will be moving from government subsidized housing to a luxurious beachfront property. This is definitely something good.
The term “prepare your fields” in the agricultural context means the following:
1. Sowing seeds.
2. Softening the soil through plowing.
3. Ensuring sufficient water for the crops through irrigation.
4. Ensuring sufficient nutrients in the soil through the application of fertilizers.
5. Protecting the crops from pests.
6. Preparing for harvests.
In short, it means doing everything it takes to make sure that your harvest will come. According to Proverbs 24:27, preparing the fields is more important than building house. The actual message is, don’t even build your house before you have fully prepared your fields. Why is that so? The answer is simple. Preparing your fields will bring you income. It will lead to prosperity. In contrast, building a house is about spending your money in luxuries. (Please be reminded that those people were already living in tents. So they were not exactly homeless. Having a house is more like a status symbol to them.)
The message God has for us is, make money first before spending them. I would like make it clear that God is not against us spending on luxuries. There is nothing wrong in wanting to drive a bigger car, living in a bigger house, owning your own personal plane or even your personal island. God has no problem with that. However, it is silly for us to get those things at the expense of getting into debts and forfeiting our future prosperity. God wants us spend on luxuries only after our financial base is secure. As long as our financial base is not yet secure, our priority should be set on building on our financial base and not on luxuries.
I believe this advice is relevant to many of us because we tend to spend more as our income increases. This is the temptation we should avoid. Let us have an example. Let us say that you used to bring your family out for McDonalds once a week. Now that your income is doubled, will you double your trips to McDonalds? The shareholders of McDonalds will be happy but you are not maximizing on the benefits of the increase of your income.
This is the problem that many people faced. Every time their income increases, their spending increases as well. As a result, no matter how high their income is, they are still making ends meet. Their financial base never grew. Their houses and cars may get bigger and more expensive but they are still as poor as they were when their income was a fraction from the amount they are receiving now. The increase in their salaries does not make them rich. In fact, it could make them poorer if they loaded up more debts in acquiring their houses and cars. This is not the prosperity God wants for us.
When God increase our incomes, he wants us to be richer and not poorer. Therefore, each time we receive an increase in salary, a huge bonus or a sudden windfall, we must discipline ourselves in order not to be tempted to waste them. Our priority should not be luxuries. We should focus on building a strong financial base. Only when our financial base is secure, should we move into acquiring luxuries.
How do we build our financial base? We need to invest our money to make it grow. This is the equivalent of preparing our fields. However, this is not just about calling a financial adviser, buy all the financial products he wants to sell. You need to do your own homework. Read up more on investments. You can start from the “Financial Planning” category in this blog. All my articles there are based on the Bible. The Bible itself contains a lot of lessons on financial planning.
Go to the library to borrow books on investments. Read up on them and start planning to build your own financial base. Once you financial base is secure, you will be in a good position to acquire some luxuries without harming your finances.