Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it. – Proverbs 15:16-27
“Show me the money!”
It’s a famous quote from a movie. And all too often it’s an attitude many of us have. Money and its acquisition consumes a considerable portion of our time.
Of course money is necessary. Proverbs speaks of how we can gain wealth and says the ability of acquiring money is actually a gift from God. Money isn’t really a problem. But our devotion to it can be a serious issue.
Here the writer of Proverbs 15 uses this common contrast where Solomon claims it is better to have little, but have the fear of the LORD. He claims having little wealth is a better situation than to have great treasure and have trouble with it. Presumably, the trouble one has from his great treasure is a result of not having a fear of the LORD.
What kind of value do we assign to the fear of the LORD? Are the world’s treasures of higher value to me than the things of the LORD? Are my values shaped by a moral code I’ve gleaned from His Word? Does living a live devoted to Him overshadow my desire to accumulate wealth?
I realize we need to provide for our families. We need money and a level of resources to live this life. King Solomon isn’t telling us to be lazy, but we do need to check our attitudes concerning the acquisition of wealth. Not only in the time and effort we put into that task, but are we reflecting God’s character with the manner in which we earn a living?
Some of the world’s unhappiest people are often those of great wealth. Many of us on the outside look at those of Hollywood or sports figures who have tragic or unhappy lives and cannot understand how someone with that amount of financial status could be so miserable. We think we’d be better at handling large sums of money. Yet, the missing ingredient isn’t raw knowledge of the handling of wealth. Rather it’s the knowledge of God and submitting to His principles that is missing.
Those with great wealth do face problems that those of us without wealth don’t really understand. But the happy person is the one who “fears the LORD” and is consumed by following Him and not chasing after great wealth.