What could be better than piles of cash and the stuff piles of cash can buy?
Young men are prone to many things that Solomon would call folly. One is the if syndrome.
- If I just had that toy
If I just had that tool
If I just had that car
If I just had some money
Young men are convinced of how much more glamorous their life would be if only they had this or that. Their wishing frequently revolves around money and/or the cool stuff that money can buy. The delusion is so complete that it is not only a better life they envision, but a better self.
Of course, this insidious syndrome is not limited to the young nor to men. The lives of many are driven by the desire to get rich and in Christians justified by the thought of how much more I could give to the church, missions, and the needy if only I had a lot more myself. Paul gave a sober warning to all such pursuers of wealth:
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
– 1 Timothy 6:6-10
What on earth is better than riches?
That is a good question to ask and consider. The Bible gives us several things that are better than riches here and now.
- Salvation, deliverance from God’s wrath is far better and more important than money. “Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death” (Proverbs 11:4). In fact, Jesus taught that it is better to be blind and without hands and feet in this life and to go to Heaven than to have all those in this life and then die and go to Hell (Matthew 18:8-9).
- Integrity is better. “Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich” (Proverbs 28:6). It is far better to maintain honesty and uprightness than to gain wealth through the discarding of these virtues. It is more conducive to peaceful sleep as well.
- A good and sensible wife is far better than money. “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers and a prudent wife is from the LORD” (Proverbs 19:14). The man who has such a wife is among the richest on earth, for her value exceeds money and treasure (Proverbs 31:10).
- A good reputation is much better than coins and green paper. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1). It is much preferred to have a track record of honesty and integrity than to drive a car that runs halfway to six figures or to wear jeans that cost you three.
- It is better to have little with love and the fear of God. “Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith” (Proverbs 15:16-17).
(The above list is adapted from Future Men by Douglas Wilson.)