In season one of the TV show 24, federal agent Jack Bauer suspects his supervisor George Mason to be withholding vital information from a criminal investigation. So Bauer shoots him with a tranquilizer gun. While Mason lies unconscious on the couch, Bauer sets his cronies to dig up anything that will give Bauer bargaining leverage with Mason. They discover that just a few years earlier, a substantial sum of money disappeared from government coffers and landed in an offshore account owned by none other than Supervisor Mason. Bauer gets his bargaining chip, and when Mason regains consciousness Bauer is able to extort the required information by revealing his newfound knowledge of Mason’s dark secret.
Even if you haven’t seen 24, you’ve probably heard the same story line played out a zillion times in television dramas, political campaigns, and news headlines. Money issues are often at the center when someone’s character is defamed by scandal. It could be theft, tax evasion, questionable accounting practices, or simply poor management. But whatever the specific instance, it is clear that a failure to handle money with integrity has the potential to disqualify a person from receiving our trust.
This fact was no less true in ancient Israel than it is today. As we’ll see in the next few Proverbs posts, Solomon warns his people of the dangers of money issues. First, he commands the one seeking wisdom to reject the enticement to easy money (Prov 1:10). Then he explains why: easy money makes promises (Prov 1:11-14), but it can’t keep them (Prov 1:15-18) and is ultimately self-destructive (Prov 1:19).