Proverbs 13:8

The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth,
but a poor man hears no threat.

The wealthy person is more likely to be kidnapped for ransom. His wealth becomes both his danger and his ransom from danger. The wealth he accumulates for pleasure must also be used for protection. But the poor man hears no threat since he has nothing worth taking and no wealth for a ransom.

Wealth can be both blessing and curse. The wealthy person can pay for more expensive pleasures; his wealth can provide financial security; but he also must pay more for protection; there is more to lose. His wealth makes him a target, especially if he is also well known. He must buy an expensive home not merely for pleasure but for security – security gate, alarm systems, and perhaps guards. He must keep alert for all kinds of attempts to rob and to take advantage of him. He has to hire professionals to watch over his possessions and finances the greater the wealth, the more to lose and more opportunities to lose it. The poor person can have less anxiety. Indeed, the poor tend to be more generous, precisely because they have little to lose.

And we would do well to learn from this principle. We spend too much time wishing we had wealth. “If only I had a million dollars…” We would pay off our debt; we would put money away for security; we would take that vacation we always wanted; buy that car; get that second home; give to our favorite ministry; buy lots of gifts for others; go to the Super Bowl; move into our dream house… And the list goes on. Indeed, it easily gets out of hand. And then we forget the taxes; we don’t think of the many requests from family, friends, charitable groups, etc. And the more popular we become because of our money, the more demand on our time. And again, now we must be more concerned for security.

The key to happiness is not in accumulating wealth, nor, for that matter, in making ourselves poor. The proverb is not exalting poverty; it is merely pointing out that wealth is not all that it is made out to be. The key to happiness is peace. For as great as the peace of mind we have, then will be the level of happiness. And the ultimate peace is that which Christ gives.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

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