Within our next several Wisdom Notes, we will focus on the priority of money in our lives – how it is properly accumulated and how it is easily lost. I have titled this series “It’s Only Money” with the theme of being on the trail of true riches.
One important indication that a person is wise is how they view and handle wealth. Wealth may be in money and riches, but it can also be in the most important things of life. Those important things are how we spend our reserve of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We will find that most of the time, the true nature of who we are with money is reflected throughout everything we do. So, let’s head on out and follow the yellow brick trail toward the summit of true wealth.
We will begin by exploring the relationship of wisdom to wealth. One of the ways to determine if you are a wise person is by the way you handle money. Wisdom is not determined by the amount of money you possess, but by your attitude toward money, by the way it is acquired, and by the way it is used.
Within this Wisdom Notes series, we will first explore the attitude of the wise toward wealth. Then, we will dissect the ways in which money should be obtained and used.
Keep in mind, as a Christ follower, I use principles for handling money that are primarily taken from the Bible. Even if you do not share the same beliefs, I know that you will find these principles apply to your life also.
On our trek this week, we are exploring how the character of the wise is integrated with money. This should not be misunderstood to suggest that I believe money is the most important attribute of the wise. It is not. In Luke 16:10 Jesus referred to money as “little things,” which is to say, not all that important.
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.”
There are several reasons, however, why such a little thing as money should be of importance to us. First of all, little as it may be, it is a major problem in most American homes, Christian and non-Christian.
We, like most governments, have become accustomed to operating on a deficit budget system, living more on credit than on cash. The result has been the need for one or both spouses to work more than is prudent or wise. Charitable giving is very low, and Christian giving is also declining.
When something which is a “little thing” becomes a “big thing” in our lives, it is a problem of priorities.
Furthermore, Jesus taught that if we are not faithful in this “little thing” of money, we will not be faithful in those matters of greater importance. Luke 16:10 reads, “But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”
Let us seek to be wise in the way we use money. Let us seek the wisdom of God in this area as we look once more into the Book of Proverbs. The trail that we will travel today is:
What is Better Than Wealth?
Some people think that nothing is better than riches, but according to Proverbs there are many things more important than money. Let us briefly consider some of these better things.
- Honesty and loyalty are better than prosperity.
In Proverbs 19:22 we are told that it is more important to be truthful than to be rich. – “Loyalty makes a person attractive. It is better to be poor than dishonest.”
The rich do not necessarily find it essential to speak gently to others. According to Proverbs 18:23 the rich man is insulting. – “The poor plead for mercy; the rich answer with insults.”
This reminds me of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’s Christmas Carol. Some that are rich do not deal kindly with others, but Proverbs indicates that honesty and loyalty are more important than riches.
- A good reputation is better than wealth.
According to Proverbs 22:1 we should, “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.”
- Godly character is more important than money.
It is more important to be righteous than to be rich. A man’s integrity is more important than his affluence. Proverbs 19:1 reads, “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.”
Also Proverbs 16:8 reminds, “Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest.”
- A peaceful home filled with love is better than a bank account filled with money.
Countless families are sacrificed in the attempt to earn money, often on the pretext of providing for the family. Proverbs instructs us that it is much more important to have a home filled with love and harmony than one that has only money.
Proverbs 15:17 puts it this way, “A bowl of vegetables with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate.”
Also in Proverbs 17:1 we read, “Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting—and conflict.”
In negative terms, one who seeks to gain wealth in an unrighteous manner brings destruction to his home. Proverbs 15:27 indicates, “Greed brings grief to the whole family, but those who hate bribes will live.”
- Wisdom is better than wealth.
Perhaps no theme is so frequently repeated in the early chapters of Proverbs.
Proverbs 8:10-11 reads, “Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it.”
Proverbs 16:16 also states, “How much better to get wisdom than gold, and good judgment than silver!”
If so many things are better than wealth, we must admit that money is not nearly as important as some suppose it to be. Further study in Proverbs confirms this.
In our next Wisdom Note, we will explore What Money Cannot Do.