17Don't be jealous of sinners,
but always honor the Lord.
18Then you will truly have hope
for the future.
This proverb is like a musical earworm. It stuck in my mind when Cathy and I were newly married. Now 43 years later it remains a reliable guide. Like all young couples starting out money matters loomed large. Then we navigated the financial challenges of launching our children in their new families. At each stage there were opportunities for discontent. Our image rich, market-driven economy provides an endless stream of comparators. Charlie W. Shedd writes about Grandma Davidson (in Letters to Karen: A Father’s Advice On Keeping Love in Marriage) and calls sales agents the “buy-buy-buy boys” who are always there with a new and improved product.
It took me some time, and this wise advice, to realize that satisfaction lies within me. It isn’t some externally driven commodity. I am a biologist by profession. So I know that appetite and desire are necessary for life. But we can let them move us into a destructive frenzy of acquisition. When unchannelled, Paul cautions the younger Timothy, they become a trap (1 Timothy 6:6-10). Desire can plunge us into destructive ruin. And just like the young man that Jesus counselled (Matthew 19:22) we have a choice to make regarding money. If we fix our attention on what we do not have there will never be enough. Satisfaction does not come from comparison.
“Want your own wants” was another of Grandma Davidson’s rule. The “sage of Sugar Creek” was steeped in the practical wisdom of the Proverbs. “Make the most of all you’ve got and make the very least of what you can’t get yet” was her most memorable advice. At about this same time as I read this I also read Wise Up and Live: Wisdom from Proverbs by Paul E. Larsen. These became mentors for me. Together these authors captured the wisdom of the ages. I grabbed their culturally relevant stories. And then I plunged back into the ancient text to uncover many more gems. These mentors are models for the ages.
Loving Lord, we come to you for wisdom. Help us keep our eyes fixed firmly upon your Son, Jesus Christ. From you we receive all good things. We give you thanks for the wisdom of your word and the grace you richly bestow. In our Saviour’s name we pray, Amen.
Dr. Wood is Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at The King's University and Dean of the Natural Sciences Faculty. His research is on urban ecology, campus sustainability and food insects. John was born in Japan, grew up on a clear-cut in western Washington State and attended North Park University in Chicago. He has written and spoken widely on caring for creation to church and campus groups. His recent publications include: How Then Shall We Eat? Insect-Eating Attitudes and Sustainable Foodways; Stewarding the gift of land: Christian campuses as land management models; and Sustainable Missions: Ethical Principles for Holistic Practice in a Broken World.