Some proverbs just pop with imagery and for me this one brought back memories of the many hours of sleep I lost playing SimCity. I loved building those cities, although I never quite took the time to really understood what the whole point of the game was. I mean, once your map was full and you were connected to all of the side cites, what was supposed to happen next? Were you just supposed to make it stronger, better and more futuristic? Was there ever an endpoint to the game? Oh well, I digress…but I want to play it again right now.
These proverbs also caught my attention because Solomon repeated the same phrase twice in different parts of his book. So if the wisest man who ever lived repeated something twice, it probably requires some extra special attention.
Solomon writes in Proverbs 10:15, “The rich man’s wealth is his strong city; the destruction of the poor is their poverty.” He follows that up in Proverbs 18:11 by saying, “The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his own esteem.” Strong cities? High walls? Destruction of the poor? What’s he exactly trying to convey here?
In the first part of each proverb, Solomon compares the wealth of a rich person to a strong city. What conclusions do you draw from that? For me it helps to think of some characteristics of a strong city. I envision a strong city as being:
- Internally Secure. (There are built in governmental or societal mechanisms to help prevent collapse.)
- Externally Protected. (They are able to defend themselves against outside forces.)
- Stable. (There are consistent patterns of behavior within the society. The general population is not characterized by erratic behavior.
- Growing. (This type of city is continually moving forward, using its resources in ways to develop the city and benefit its citizens.)
So in relation to the process of building wealth, the comparison seems fairly straightforward:
- In the process of accumulating our wealth, we have built into our plan mechanisms to help prevent a personal financial collapse. These would include things such as budgets, savings, insurance, retirement, and investment accounts. All of these financial devices, properly used over time, assist us in developing a strong financial picture.
- Our wealth defends us against life events that hit us from the outside over which we may have no control. These might include things such as unexpected car or home repairs, hospital bills due to sickness and disease, or lawsuits. We know these emergencies will come. They are just a part of life. While wealth can’t stop them from coming, it can ease the financial strain of living through them.
- Wealth creates stability in our lives. There is a real calming effect that takes place in our emotions when we reach the point where there are enough financial resources to provide for our families’ basic needs, pay all of your bills, save, and then still have extra to invest for the future. At this point, you will be less likely to take crazy risks with your money because you have lived through the emotional low points of having no money and will not want to go back there.
- Wealth should be used to create more. We should not become stagnant at some point in our lives in our accumulation of wealth. We cannot assume we have enough resources and stop focusing on our financial plan, for the simple fact we cannot predict what the future holds. In addition, we should always maintain the spiritual focus that all we have really belongs to God and he has embedded in our nature the desire to give. We should be using our wealth to benefit others around us.
Maybe we all need to view the accumulation of wealth as building a strong city for ourselves? I know I sure enjoyed playing SimCity more when my city was established and strong. (Topic to be continued in my next post.)
What other characteristics might you connect with wealth and a strong city?
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