When you grab all you can get, that's what happens: the more you get, the less you are. (Proverbs 1:19, MSG)
Tada! Today we start Proverbs.
I have observed that men seem to favor Proverbs. I can understand why. Unlike the poetic extravaganzas of Psalms, Proverbs is full of pithy sayings a la Ben Franklin's "early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wise."
That's the reason why I don't "enjoy" reading Proverbs. It reads more like a tear-away calendar; meditate on a single principle for an entire day. Some people read five Psalms and one chapter a day of Proverbs each day. You would quickly become very familiar with them, since you would read through both books in a month.
Another reason I'm not all that fond of Proverbs: I am not given to extremes. I see shades of gray more than black and white. Give me a scale of one to ten, and I use two to nine.
And Proverbs is full of all-or-nothing statements, such as the ones I quote below. My mind tends to fill in the blanks. [All] carelessness [always] kills. [any] complacency [kills the good]
I don't handle all-or-nothing principles very well. I've fought a streak of perfectionism for years. So looking for verses from Proverbs that don't leave me feeling like a complete failure may prove to be a challenge.
So after saying all of that, I found a great verse today, warning against the dangers of materialism.
I once worked for a new-age Jewish boss. Just saying he didn't "get" the Christian worldview. It showed in his materialistic attitude. His sole measurement of success lay in a person's wealth. For me, money and cars are a means to an end, not a measurement of success. As a single mother, I treasured "gently used" items passed on to us. And aside from family picture and books (always books and more books and . . .), I didn't really horde anything.
My son has caught that value as well. He has to; two parents and four children living in a small three bedroom, one full bath home with two dogs and a cat have to share space wisely. And he grabs what he can get by dint of hard work, actually accomplishing the goal of becoming debt-free except for their house mortgage.
I guess I'm saying I'm not someone who grabs all I can get. But if I had the money to spend, would I be? Perhaps. And put me in front of an ice cream bar? Hmm, I'll fill up my bowl several times.
But what fascinates me the most about this principle is the consequence: Grabbing more==being less.
The suggestion is that the price of grabbing things is high, higher than we should be willing to pay.
The more I have grabbed of becoming a good writer, the less time I have devoted to my health and my family. The more I've grabbed of reading a good book, the less of enjoying outdoors and physical activity have I enjoyed.
The more I hold onto of the $50 a month I receive, the less money I have to spend on presents for the family--something my son is asking me for.
The more I think "me, me, me" in doing and spending--the less I have left to give to others.
Oh, Lord, let me find my self-worth in You, not in what I own.
Today's favorite verse: Carelessness kills; complacency is murder. First pay attention to me, and then relax. (Proverbs 1;31-32, MSG)