John T. Willis

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Things "Better Than" Worldly Values

The world places very high value on power, leadership, wealth, prosperity, success, and the like. Almost any issue of the Reader's Digest contains one or more articles on how to make more money, how to save money, how to succeed in one's chosen field of work, etc. One "sub-theme" in the book of Proverbs is that there are many "heavenly," "godlike," "spiritual" pursuits which are much more valuable than these worldly matters. Notice a few examples.

"BETTER is a little with the fear of the Lord
than great treasure and trouble with it.
BETTER is a dinner of vegetables where love is
than a fatted ox and hatred with it" (Proverbs 15:16-17; see 16:8).
The fear [reverence, honor, great respect] for the Lord and love in a family are much more valuable than worldly possessions and riches.

"It is BETTER to be of a lowly spirit among the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud" (Proverbs 16:19).
Human ego is so controlling! People usually think more highly of themselves than they ought to think (see Romans 12:3). However, God alone must and will be exalted. Therefore, the appropriate human stance before God is humility. Humility is much superior to self-elevation.

"One who is slow to anger is BETTER than the mighty,
and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city"
(Proverbs 16:32).
Headlines in newspapers and magazines praise those who have won important military campaigns, sports competitions, intellectual contests, etc. But for one seeking to please God, restraining anger against those who have treated someone in ungodly ways is much more important, although this will never find a place in worldly publications.

"BETTER the poor walking in integrity
than one perverse of speech who is a fool" (Proverbs 19:1).
"What is desirable in a person is loyalty,
and it is BETTER to be poor than a liar" (Proverbs 19:22).
People in positions of power, prestige, and leadership often get there by misrepresenting the words or ideas or actions of others, by concealing their own beliefs and actions, by "saying what supporters want to hear," by obscuring information relevant to discovering truth, etc., attempting to soothe their conscience by convincing themselves that they must use these means "for the greater good." In stark contrast to this mentality, according to the Bible, God is seeking people of honesty, truthfulness, and integrity.