Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it (Proverbs 15:16 ESV).
One of the recurring themes throughout the Proverbs is that peace, righteousness, and the fear of the Jehovah are far superior to wealth. With so much glorification of gain, this is definitely a counter-culture mindset.
It is implicit in almost every culture that those who have are more important than those who do not. Those who have fame are better than those who are unknown. Those who are rich are better than those who are poor. Those who are talented in a visible way are better than those whose talents exhibit themselves in more modest ways. Privation is seen as a character flaw and possession is seen as proof of a superior person.
Thankfully, the Lord does not judge as man judges. The Lord places great value on righteousness, justice, love, and faithfulness. “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice” (Proverbs 16:8).
We don’t always hold the power of profit, but we hold the capacity for contentment. Paul called it a secret to be learned (Philippians 4:11, 12). This secret is no easier to learn now. Weakness is derided, insults are not to be taken but dished out, hardships are to be avoided, persecutions are to be fabricated, and calamities are to be blamed on others. Yet Paul listed them all as things he was content with for the sake of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:10). Oh, to have the mind of Christ!
Creating and keeping such a mind requires purposeful effort. Solomon, the wisest of men who penned these parables, gave in to pursuing purpose through possessions. His wine, work, wealth, and women took the place of an all-consuming thirst for the Lord. After all his exploits, he learned through experience that only one thing is worth pursuing at the cost of all others, only one thing is worth possessing at the cost of all others (see Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).
“Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou my inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.”/1
The simple truth is this: If you have the Lord, you have everything.
1/ “Be Thou My Vision,” Irish Folk Hymn.