16It's better to obey the Lord
and have only a little,
than to be very rich
and terribly anxious.
17A simple meal with love
is better than a feast
where there is hatred.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to feel like you are stuck in a rat race? We dream about the house, car, vacation, clothes, and electronic devices that we see on TV or in the driveway next to ours. We work harder to obtain more, only to find out that we need to keep making more money in order to sustain what we already have and to strive for the next dream or goal that we have for our life.
In this passage of Scripture, the wisdom we are being taught is not that having material possessions is a bad thing, but that there is a better life to pursue.
In the beginning of Proverbs (1:7 NIV), we were taught that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Obeying the Lord is what keeps us at peace in times of turmoil. He gives us the knowledge to see the bigger picture of what is happening in our circumstances. In contrast, if we rely on our wealth to get us out of turmoil, then we will find that our wealth will not really give us the knowledge that we need.
The writer of Proverbs then moves to compare having a small serving of vegetables with a huge feast. He challenges us that it is not the menu that matters, but the love that comes with the meal.
Peace in times of turmoil and love from the people you share a meal with. These are things that any human would long for. Yet we so often pursue our own ideal of a “better life.”
If you have ever been to a third world country, you will have come face to face with this. In a recent visit to Africa, I experienced joy and love from children in a way that changed my life forever. I will always remember sitting in a community centre in the middle of a shantytown. Children came by the hundreds—smiling and singing. As I sat down, they climbed on me as if I were a jungle gym, and one little girl took my hand and held on tightly the entire time I was visiting. These children have nothing, but yet, they have everything.
Pursue the better life.
Father God. Explore my heart and my actions and show me if I am pursuing the better life that you have shown me. Give me the discipline to ignore the message of the culture we live in and the faith to pursue your way towards a better life.