On Wisdom and Wealth
I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.
With me are riches and honor,
enduring wealth and prosperity.
My fruit is better than fine gold;
what I yield surpasses choice silver.
I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice,
bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me
and making their treasuries full.
- Proverbs 8:17-21
Proverbs 8 contains this beautiful little aside into the relationship between Wisdom (the speaker in today’s text) and Wealth.
Wisdom has more worth than gold and silver. That refrain echoes time and time again throughout biblical wisdom literature. And we rightly receive this caution to resist the temptation to give our love to wealth. Wealth makes a terrible god, as obsession with gold melts our wings and a passion for silver ends in mercurial lunacy (pardon the alchemical humor!).
But Wisdom and Wealth are not enemies. In fact, Wisdom proudly proclaims that she makes full the treasuries of the Wise. Wisdom can bring wealth and prosperity, riches and honor. But the Wise seek Wisdom before Wealth.
Find Wisdom and you may also find Wealth. Seek Wealth and you will, ultimately, find neither Wealth nor Wisdom. Reject Wisdom and true Wealth will elude your grasp. Pursue Wisdom wholeheartedly and, in some measure, Wealth will follow.
This isn’t a promise that all of the Wise will live in castles and fly around in Corvettes. But the Wise will have a new perspective on all of their resources, “uniquely situated by virtue of [their] position.” They will know when enough is enough. They will know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. They will know how to put their Wealth to work for good in the world.
Don’t confuse the Wealthy with the Rich. Many who have much also lack much. Many possessions don’t make one Wise.
Have you ever known someone who you thought of as Wealthy even though they had few possessions? What are your heart’s attitudes toward Wealth? How might Wisdom correct your relationship with Wealth?