More Valuable Than Riches
When something or someone is important or of worth to us, we say we “value” it. What we mean is this person or thing means the world to us. We could value a relationship, status, adulation, or literal things like having a lot of money or a nice car.
Almost always if a person has physical riches, then universally that person says I have something valuable. Truth be told, if I was given a million dollars, or a painting worth a million dollars, you bet I would feel wealthy. Certainly with both the money and the painting I would make sure that both were put in a nice safe place.
But here is the thing, what if I told you there is something worth more than a million dollars that has nothing to do with material wealth. Fellow believers right now would be saying, “I know the answer: my eternal salvation.” You would certainly be correct. But that being a given, there are actually other things in this life also more valuable than riches.
Proverbs 3:13-15 gives us the first more valuable than riches example. The Scripture says, “Happy is the person who finds wisdom and gains understanding. For the profit of wisdom is better than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.”
Let this sink in for a moment. Wisdom is more valuable than silver, gold, or rubies? Talk about comparative value, nothing can even come close to the value of wisdom. So how can some ethereal concept be worth more than riches? I mean after all you need physical wealth to survive in this world. Interestingly, the next verses (16-18) in Proverbs 3 give us the reason. Here is what the text says: “She (wisdom) offers you life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left. She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.”
What an amazing lists of benefits. You get life, riches, honor, guidance, satisfaction, and happiness. Did you notice that one of the benefits is riches, but along with material gain, you receive the best emotional well being: honor, satisfaction, and happiness!
So here is the paradox, when you get true wisdom, wealth came come your way, but not at the expense of your emotional happiness. I would definitely say then that wisdom is more valuable than gold, silver, or rubies. (See also Proverbs 8:17-21).
But that is not the only more valuable than riches example. Proverbs 22:1 tells us that a good reputation is more valuable over great riches and being held in high esteem is better than having gold and silver. At first I thought well of course you need to have a good reputation. But, how does that pay the bills?
Once again I believe that having a good reputation can lead to a good job, because employers love hard working, dependable, honest workers. This translates to the best of both worlds; financial prosperity and good emotional health, in this case relational well being.
Let’s be honest. Most of us know the importance of material wealth, but a lot us also know that money can’t always buy happiness. That is why Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:33, to always seek first the Kingdom of God. When we do this, then he says that our material needs will be met. When we make money or material wealth the focus, we might strike it rich, but at what cost?
In 1 Timothy 6:6, Paul is at the end of his life and he writes to his young protege how “true religion with contentment is great wealth”. In the next several verses he describes how people who make wealth, e.g. the love of money, their primary goal can cause them ruin and even believers to wander away from the faith. Again the emphasis on right priorities and the most valuable things in life.
At the end of peoples’ lives, they aren’t thinking about how they could have worked harder and made more money. No, they are wishing they could have spent more time with family, or done more to make the world a better place.
In this current season of the pandemic, this is a time to find out what is really the most valuable. Yes we need work and finances to pay our bills, but if we don’t use this time to reevaluate what is most important, then we will go back to our jobs and deceive ourselves into thinking that now everything is all right.
I implore us to be challenged by the Word of God. If we really believe that wisdom and a good reputation is more valuable than material wealth, then we must at all costs pursue those endeavors. This time could actually end up being the defining moment when we finally discover the true riches of life.