It’s Only Wealth

28 06 2010

Who really means it when they say, “it’s only money.” Wealth, even if one chooses to live simply, is still pretty appealing and, I might add, comforting; to not think about the bill that is rolling around next month would be a relief. I realize there are other stresses around the edges of wealth; maintaining a state of wealth requires industry, after all. Still, if there is a pocket of wealth that one can dip into with quite a lot of reliability, I would say that would bring a certain peace of mind.

But The Book of Proverbs (in the Bible), with its usual candor, says it’s “only wealth.”

“A kindhearted woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth.” Proverbs 11:16

This isn’t a “to be wealthy” or “not to be wealthy” kind of proverb. To be kind does not mean you won’t have wealth, but if you are the ruthless type (callous, hard-hearted, unsympathetic, unmerciful, cut-throat…) it is all you will have in the end. Maybe that is good enough for some; maybe “owning” is all they want, along with the shallow companions who trip over themselves to stand next to riches. Maybe.

A kindhearted person gains respect; that is, appreciation, sometimes admiration, followers, many times love or adoration and certainly honor. A kindhearted person is looked up to and what they say is often listened to. A kindhearted person is a pleasure to be with, refreshing others, and receiving the sort of attention due to them.

I have been the recipient of various types of kindness; far more times than I can count. My life has overflowed with simple and sacrificial acts of kindness shown to me by others. People of all ages,  wealthy people, and people of little means, those I have known “forever” and some I have barely met, have extended themselves to me in so many kind ways. As I am reflecting on it, I feel privileged to the point of being embarrassed. If not for the danger of leaving someone out, I could effortlessly list 50 people who have been kind to me; and that would just be 2010.

Whether I have wealth or don’t, I can mismanage myself as much as any person who has more or less. I can be as ruthless and stingy, as self-serving or isolated, and definitely as greedy; my desires can be as insatiable; I can be as indifferent and as unconcerned with my $5 as with another’s five million.

I can also be as kindhearted. Isn’t that true? Kindness is kindness no matter if you are penniless or über wealthy. Just stop and think about it: will you only take a complement from someone who has credentials?

— Teresa Klassen

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