The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom. There are few main themes in Proverbs that come up over and over again, how to live right, raise good children and how to handle money are the most common. Over the next little while I’m going to write a series of posts on what I call Financial Proverbs, the ones with the most obvious implications for financial planning and life with money.
Here’s the first one;
Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the life of those who get it. [Proverbs 1:19]
This is the conclusion of a longer passage in which Solomon tells his son not to keep company with sinful men who steal from the innocent.
But the bigger implication is this, money and possessions that are not gained through legitimate work and things that you don’t deserve will eat at you. It’s like “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe. Poe’s famous story is about a murderer who buries the body of his victim in the floor boards of his house. But the murderer continues to hear the heart beat of his victim until it drives him mad. Finally he can’t stand it anymore and confesses to his crime.
“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! –tear up the planks! here, here! –It is the beating of his hideous heart!” [Edgar Allan Poe; “The Tell-Tale Heart”]
That’s what it’s like for us when we gain money and possessions dishonestly. The beating heart of your “ill-gotten gain” will mock you until you can’t stand it anymore. All joy you should receive from having this thing will be sucked away by the knowledge that you have hurt someone in order to get it.
Better to remain content with an “honest day’s wages for an honest day’s work”.