In verses 7-9, the Holy Spirit teaches us that which is of the greatest value in life, yet is seldom seen as such by most people. Nobody begins life as an adult by seeking to be unsuccessful. We get the best education that we can. We try to earn our wages in a field in which we possess some skill; and if possible, we try to put some away for our later years when we are no longer able to work. For some, success at doing these things comes very easily. Others do not always find that to be the case.
One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth,
but a poor man hears no threat.
The light of the righteous rejoices,
but the lamp of the wicked will be put out
Are the wealthy always so much better off than the poor indeed? The accumulation of such great wealth, though appealing to most of us, does not always result in the best quality of life. Mountains of money and endless possessions did not seem to make life joyous for Howard Hughes. Elvis Presley’s fame and fortune often kept him from going out in public, and he died seemingly “before his time” as did Michael Jackson.
My parents were “products” of the Great Depression, and knew first-hand what poverty was like. My father had to leave school in the 8th great to go to work just so the family could survive. They never had much in worldly possessions when they were growing up; and after the Great War, life was still a struggle. We never had great wealth even after I was born, but I and my siblings never knew what it was like to be truly hungry or to do without any of what most people would consider to be the real necessities of life. All the way into my teenage years, I often marveled at the simple life my grandparents still lived in a house no larger in square footage than the game room in my current home.
But who is rich, and who is poor really? My grandparents and their siblings made up a large extended family that was always close through the years before and after the “baby boom.” And though they had little in the way of material wealth, they were incredibly happy because they had been given a precious gift – great love for the Lord, and for each other. and nearly 60 years later, the family reunions have remained large in numbers.
Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6:8-10 come to mind:
…We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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