Proverbs 22: 1, 2, and 4 (NLT)
“Choose a good reputation over great riches;
being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.
2 The rich and poor have this in common:
The Lord made them both.
4 True humility and fear of the Lord
lead to riches, honour, and long life.”
“A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich;
a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.
2 The rich and the poor shake hands as equals—
God made them both!
4 The payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God
is plenty and honor and a satisfying life.”
This theme that riches are not the most important thing in life repeats itself a lot in Proverbs. I find it interesting since Solomon was considered to be one of the richest people in his world, along with his reputation for wisdom. So I guess if anyone should know whether being rich is very important, it would be Solomon. In another book he wrote – Ecclesiastes – Solomon wrote, “The sleep of a working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but, the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep … As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labour.” (5: 12 and 15 NASB)
So what does Solomon say is most important – “a good reputation”/“being held in high esteem” or wealth? I don’t think that means you have to be a widely known, popular person. Just the next-door-neighbour can be a wonderful person. Good reputations are built on integrity and kindness. Someone you can trust and someone who looks out for others as much as themselves is a person with a good reputation. That is the person you would turn to when you needed a friend and advisor.
So what does that mean for us ordinary folks? It means you don’t have to have perfect kids. It means you don’t have to have a big house furnished with all the latest decorating tips, or the latest model car/SUV. It means you don’t have to concentrate on being the best dressed person in your friendship group. It means you don’t have to be able to entertain lavishly or go on expensive vacations. You don’t even have to be the best example of an accomplished person in some skill, trade or profession. You don’t have to be wealthy or even a middle-class earner.
You can relax and just be honest. People can know they can count on your word. When you say you’ll do something, you can be counted on. When you recommend something, people appreciate your opinion. You can be kind and friendly. You can invite people to your house even though you don’t have enough money to buy coordinated living room furniture yet, or serve a gourmet meal. People just know you care about them.
That’s what Solomon is telling you. Having lots of stuff isn’t the most important thing. It’s being well thought of by the people around you.
Our song for today is Love God, Love People by Danny Gokey