Proverbs 3:27-28

Withhold Not Good

 

from them to whom it is due,

1. The subject here is withholding dues… money owed to another.

2. “Them to whom it is due” = baal;

a. Baal is a term for lord; or owner.

b. The author is using a play on words.

c. Someone else is the real owner (lord; baal) of this money or product or goods—whatever it is that is DUE.

3. To whom would our money be due?

a. If we borrow money from another person…

b. If we borrow money from a bank or finance company…

c. If we borrow someone else’s property (car; snow blower; bicycle; stereo)

d. If we owe someone a service—by bartering your time of service for money or for property—or even someone’s else’s service. (the plumber who promises to fix the carpenter’s leaky sink if the carpenter promises to fix his leaky roof!)

e. If we purchase items with a credit card…

f. If we hire someone to do a job, and they do the job…

g. If we live in a country, enjoy its services, then we owe taxes…

h. If we have been saved and appreciate God’s grace, we are responsible to give to the Lord’s work… it is due…

i. If we borrow money, time, or service, we have become a debtor to that person or company or country.

j. That person becomes a baal of our money, time, or service—that other person becomes the lord; master of our money, time, service.

k. If we owe someone—that person is the master of our money / service.

4. Those to whom it is due does not refer to anyone who WANTS your money or asks you for money. He is speaking someone to whom you OWE money.

Withhold not good

1. Withhold: to hold back, keep back, refrain, deny, restrain, hinder

2. Withhold not good is a command!

3. If our money, time, or service is DUE, then we are commanded by God to pay it!

4. Actually, the command is that we are NOT to withhold money when due.

a. Not withholding is different than a command to pay.

b. This command implies that there might be times when a person HAS the money to pay, but for some reason, chooses NOT to pay. This is forbidden.

c. Why would a person withhold money due to his debtors?
• Usually selfishness. We would rather KEEP it or spend in on self!
• Some might say they are withholding tax dollars because they do not agree with the government’s policy on Iraq or abortion, or because we don’t like the President, etc…
• Cf. Matt.22: 17-21 – Jesus said to pay taxes to Caesar!
• This is hardly an endorsement of Caesar or his regime by Christ.
• Jesus told Peter to pay his taxes so as to avoid offences. (Matt.17:26)
• We are not to withhold that which is due because it may be an offence—it will tarnish our testimony for Christ.
• There is no excuse for withholding taxes. It is money owed!

5. Before we ever begin a project (building a house; buying a car; etc) we are to sit down and count the cost whether we are able to finish the project—and pay for it! (Luke 14:28-30)

a. The point is that we are NOT to get in over our heads.

b. We are NOT to borrow more than we can pay back.

c. We are NOT to live beyond our means.

d. We are NOT to involve ourselves in a commitment we are not able to finish.

e. Doing our homework AHEAD of time will prevent us from making this mistake. It will keep us out of that awkward position of owing… being in debt… and finding ourselves unable to pay…

6. However, the passage in Proverbs seems to be warning about something even worse. The warning is about REFUSING to pay money owed, even when we have it!

a. This brings to mind the warning to the wealthy landowners in James.
• James 5:1-3 – James is addressing rich men.
• Vs. 4 – These landowners hired peasants to work their fields, but were withholding their paychecks by fraud.
• Either they were LYING about the amount owed… or coming up with an EXCUSE to hold on to their money as long as possible.
• The Lord knows all about it. And He is coming one day to make the crooked things straight! (vs.8)

b. We too can commit this kind of sin.
• In running a business, we have no right to withhold payment to our creditors… or to companies that have supplied us with goods or services.
• In running a household, we have no right to hire servicemen come and fix our home or car, if we know we can’t pay them… and we are going to put off payment when the bill comes in…
• We might be mad at a company/doctor/serviceman and refuse to pay.
• We can withhold good because of a grudge; anger; procrastination; laziness; revenge;—all of which are wrong and forbidden by this passage.

when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.

1. The specific example here is of refusing to pay when we have the money or the ability.

2. Power = el (the other half of the play on words).

a. The play on words is between baal and el – a name for God.

b. It is an unusual expression, consistently translated in a manner similar to the KJV.

c. El, God is powerful; able.

d. If we have the power and ability to pay off our baals, do so!

3. There are times when we may NOT have the power or ability to pay off a loan or a bill.

a. A man may begin a project, count the cost, and crunch all the numbers and the project may seem quite do-able.

b. But the economy could turn sour—suddenly and unexpectedly… any number of things could happen.

c. We might find ourselves without power or ability to pay. That is not the point of this passage.

d. This passage speaks of someone who is ABLE to pay but refuses.
• The McCoys and the Joneses having a feud…
• The man who piles up bills and doesn’t pay them, in order to save money for his vacation…
• The man who promised to do a good deed for someone, and is able to do so, but keeps putting it off… procrastination.

28 Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.

1. The specific reason mentioned for putting off payment here seems to procrastination. (Mañana!)

2. Very often this kind of postponing is done with ulterior motives…

a. We put it off—secretly hoping that the other party will forget about it… or not bother to ask again… or grow tired of asking…drop it altogether…

b. This is often a cover for selfishness… covetousness. We put off paying because we love money and don’t want to pay what we owe… we like to keep it.

c. Sometimes the need is urgent and CANNOT be put off until tomorrow! Tomorrow might be too late.

3. WHY would someone (who had the ability to give) say, “Go and come again; tomorrow I will give?”

a. Probably because of greed. He really doesn’t really WANT to pay.

b. He wants to put it off…

c. It reveals what his heart is like… greed… self centered…

Applications:

1. While this text seems to be speaking specifically of paying back something that is owed to another, there are many applications that can be made about our responsibility to do GOOD unto others.

2. In principle, this passage is similar to James 2:15-16

a. In this text, nothing is actually OWED to the poor man.

b. But there is a moral obligation to help.

c. If a brother is destitute (starving; naked; etc)—drastic circumstances—we are morally obligated to help.

d. This does not refer to the brother who comes to borrow money for a new leather coat or one who needs money to eat at the Tavern on the Green.

e. It speaks of a brother who is destitute. This is more like the situation of the Good Samaritan who found a man lying destitute on the side of the road.

f. Vs.16 – saying, “Depart, be warmed and filled” is sending him away without helping. You are withholding good! It is just like saying, “Go and come again; tomorrow I will give.”

g. If we can help a brother or sister in Christ, we should.
• We may be used at times.
• There will always be freeloaders who take advantage of Christian generosity.
• But over all, if we can help, we should.
• If it is within our ability and power—don’t withhold.

2. Gal. 6:10 – as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to those of the household of faith.

a. As we have opportunity—speaks of a person who has the power or ability to help.

b. We have been called to do GOOD works… we are to walk in the good works that God has ordained for us. (Eph. 2:8-10) This is the natural FRUIT of salvation, never the root!

c. When opportunity arises to do good, DO it. Don’t withhold it.

d. The question always arises—where do we draw the line?
• If we give money away, there will be a line of people at our door every day!
• I am ABLE to work every night—helping out a different brother every night of the week.
• But we also have to prioritize the use of our time.
• We also have to consider other things: our health; our family; responsibilities; our limits.
• We ARE to help and not to withhold help… but do it WISELY! Certainly the book of Proverbs while promoting KINDNESS also is promoting WISDOM in how we live our lives!

3. Titus 3:1 – We are to be READY to every good work.

a. That means we are NOT to put it off till mañana!

b. Ready = ready; prepared; even eager

c. We shouldn’t be withholding good from others. It shouldn’t take a crowbar to get us to do good to others.

d. Good should naturally FLOW out of one who is saved by grace!

4. While making application about paying our debts, consider Rom. 1:14-15.

a. Paul considered himself a debtor to the gentiles.

b. He had been given a responsibility to preach the gospel to them.

c. Paul saw this responsibility as an obligation and a debt.

d. It is a moral obligation… like a man who has the cure to cancer would be morally obligated to tell others. We have the cure to eternal condemnation!

e. Thus, he was READY to fulfill this obligation… to pay this debt. He was ready to preach the gospel wherever he was.

f. Are we? Do we see this as an obligation or a debt? Perhaps we should.

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