“The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;
they imagine it an unscalable wall.”
~Proverbs 18:11 (NIV).
As I strode to the beach recently I marvelled at the huge retaining walls of the nearby properties, thinking how secure and impressive they looked. Then I thought for a moment longer; the Spirit checking my thinking... it occurred to me afresh... nothing is unscaleable. That was a profound reflection as I then reflected over the above proverb.
There is an equivalent proverb for the poor... ‘Poverty is their ruin’ (Proverbs 10:15). So, whilst riches can be fleeting and can’t be guaranteed, they’re much better than a “present” poverty.
I also recalled recently the very sad story of a colleague who was once incarcerated (and for some time too, I might add). Without getting into reason or rationale, I considered it so very sad that someone could lose their freedom, and to this, all their significant possessions and relationships.
Many people, especially in this age and in Western society, put much emphasis and value on their riches, the amount and quality of the “toys” they possess; their property, cars etc. It’s through these material assets that we—if we’re not careful—can derive much of our identity and significance and meaning in life.
Yet, it’s a dangerous position to set ourselves up from.
Even though diligence warrants material rewards ninety-eight percent of the time, it’s absolutely no guarantee. The best way to view life in the context of material possessions is to be thankful for them, but also be perfectly willing to lose these “things” subject to God’s perfect will—which we often will not understand, but must trust implicitly in faithfulness.
No matter how safely we appear to be positioned, life, we should know, can turn on five-cent piece—and with quite a nudge of finality I might add! Why would we in our right minds get devastatingly despondent if we were to lose the material possessions? Sure, a time of re-adjustment would be required, but how would we resolve this semi-Joban situation? I mean, what lessons have we met and hence internalised from Job?
As someone who lost a great deal both spiritually and materially some several years ago now—with lifetime ramifications, as many others too will testify in their own circumstances, I know acutely what is most important. Moth and rust destroy the latter (Matthew 6:19-20) whereas the real spiritual things are eternal. We can never really lose them.
How high are your walls? High enough? Is the height that important?
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.