Better a poor man’s dinner, with love

Proverbs 15:16 Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, Than great treasure with trouble. 17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, Than a fatted calf with hatred.

This proverb has been on my mind a good deal lately. It is one of those sayings that seemed very obviously true when I was very young and first read it. Of course love is better than riches! All the songs say so. But as I grew older I saw how very difficult this truth becomes in the application.

It is so common to give all of our attention to the earthly concerns. Paying the mortgage, getting the oil changed, paying off the credit cards. Besides money, we concern ourselves with so many other concerns like our health, our entertainment, or our jobs. Yet Proverbs is pointing us to the fact that the greatest needs of humanity are spiritual needs, not physical. Love for God, love for our neighbor- these things are far more important than what we eat.

An automobile requires gas to run at all; when we first started driving we learned that truth very quickly. We got good at always putting gas in the car; the feedback for failing to put in gas is immediate. But oil is important too, even if less obvious. If you fail to put oil in the car, it might not be immediately clear, but the result will be even more catastrophic.

Our human relationships don’t usually require the kind of immediate attention that our stomach does. We have to eat every few hours and if we don’t, the feedback is immediate. But we can neglect our spouses or our children sometimes for years without really paying attention. And with God, it’s even more true. People go about their lives paying no attention to God at all for years or decades without really noticing. But the cost cannot be ignored forever; eventually the bill comes due, and then we find that the cost of neglecting the spiritual aspect really is very high. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?

Sometimes it is the not-so-obvious needs which are the truly important ones, which is why the Bible reminds us of this so often. Tend to the relationships in your life. Tend to the people in your life that you love; the benefits may not be immediately obvious, but are nonetheless real. Even more importantly, tend to your relationship with God, for the benefits of that relationship are eternal.

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31, 33)

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