The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want. (Proverbs 13:25 ESV)
There are a number of references to the poor and rich in the 13th chapter of Proverbs. (See verses 7, 8, 11, 18, 22, 23 and 25)
What I appreciate about these references is how there is a difference between the appearance of wealth and the actual substance of wealth. The accumulation of material possessions and in this day and age the size of the bank balance is the referral point for wealth. Yet time and again the writer of Proverbs would share with us that people who appreciate wealth, understand that it’s not primarily about if you have the stuff, the concern is if the stuff has you.
For example verse 8 talks about how a man’s wealth can be his ransom. Looking at occasions of people getting rich as well as people who inherit riches is a story of people who are driven to despair and anxiety over protecting that wealth and maintaining it. That’s an indicator that sometimes the trouble with wealth is attitudes towards it and the grasp it can have on our lives.
Likewise what wealth can reveal is the contents of our character. Those who are righteous will tend to understand that it’s not the wealth that owns them, but is they who own the wealth and even that does not affect their level of contentment, because it does not come from what they have, but the way they know and Who shows them that way. Whereas those who are not motivated by doing and being everything pleasing to God will tend to be subject to corrupting influences within that will never find contentment however much is gained.
These writings are certainly warning against amassing a lot of money or a lot of stuff or a lot of accomplishments. Indeed that’s the point of the prosperity of the diligent. What the Proverbs here remind us of is the importance of seeing first things first – doing and being right in God’s sight – then resting in the importance of that in all things.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden