The book of Proverbs is a pithy collection of wisdom that I read so I can benefit from its wise and insightful commentary on life. As I was reading the 11th chapter this morning, a few verses caught my attention, and one in particular caused me to pause and reflect on its meaning: One person is generous and yet grows more wealthy, but another withholds more than he should and comes to poverty.
Over the years of my life, I’ve worked with people from all walks and stations of life; some have been known for their wealth, and others have had very little of this life’s goods. It’s been my observation that some of the wealthiest have been the poorest and some of the poorest have been the wealthiest.
The difference between these people, is found in your answer to this question: Do you own your possessions or do they possess you?
Some people are like Abraham, Joseph, and Job; they are people of great wealth, but they are not hoarders. On the other hand, some people are like King Ahab; they are never satisfied, they always want more, and they are willing to do anything to get what they want.
There’s a third group which seems to be a balance between the first two; these are the people who are content. They are found among the wealthy as well as the poor, and they are content because of the content of their life.
The best way I can explain this is to quote the Apostle Paul: I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me (Philippians 4:11-13).
When the content of Paul’s life changed, he learned to be content. He quit chasing after religious and worldly acclaim and learned the real treasure in life is found in Jesus Christ. This radical shift in his thinking changed his perspective and his deepest longings were satisfied.
You may never be wealthy by the world’s standards, but you can enjoy riches that pay eternal dividends. You can discover true wealth by doing what Paul did: You can invest in the lives of others by:
- Being generous
- Showing mercy, with cheerfulness
- Loving without hypocrisy
- Rejoicing in hope; being patient in affliction; and being persistent in prayer
- Sharing with the saints in their needs
- Pursuing hospitality.
Based on the list above, how wealthy are you?