Better a Little With the Fear of the Lord

By Michael Brown Published on February 14, 2024

Have you ever suffered from celebrity envy? Have you ever wondered why some people have riches and fame and good looks, not to mention gorgeous spouses or partners, while you don’t have any of these things? Have you wondered why some people seem to have it all while your life is, well, quite mundane, if not downright mediocre in comparison?

The reality is that all that glitters is not gold, and neither riches nor fame nor good looks guarantee true happiness or satisfaction or contentment. And at the end of the day, nothing matters more than the state of one’s inner being and the quality of one’s personal relationships.

As Jesus said in another context, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:26) We could also ask, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world yet lose their family and friends?”

To be sure, there are some people who are rich, famous, good looking and truly happy as well, with solid families and genuine friends. Conversely, being poor, unknown, and homely is no guarantee of joy. Obviously. Grinding poverty is a terrible burden and divine provision is a great blessing.

Looking Outward for Inward Satisfaction

Speaking personally, I was not closer to God when Nancy and I could barely pay our bills and we lived under constant financial pressure. And I really enjoy living in the beautiful home that Nancy helped design and looking out at the beautiful landscape she helped create.

The more we look to outward things for inward satisfaction, the emptier and shallower we become.

But it’s quite telling that the most turbulent relationships are often found among those who seem to have everything, while it’s not uncommon to hear of marital infidelity among those whose spouses look like super models.

As the Scriptures wisely observe, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10) That’s why the Bible also speaks of those with people “eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin” (2 Peter 2:14).

Fleshly desires can never be satisfied, which is why people who give into sexual sin become addicted to it rather than freed from it.

And that’s why, the more we look to outward things for inward satisfaction, the emptier and shallower we become.

Godliness and Contentment

As Paul wrote, “godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:6–10)

Here are some more words of wisdom from the Word for reflection and meditation:

“Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil. Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.” (Proverbs 15:16–17)

“Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8)

“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” (Proverbs 17:1)

“Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse.” (Proverbs 28:6)

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)

We do well to chew on these words.

Possessions That Could Fit in a Shoebox

Some of the most content, joyful children I have ever met are part of a Christian children’s home in India, most of them orphans.

I actually wrote an article about them in 2011 titled, “What Christian Orphans in India Can Teach Our American Youth,” starting with these words: “They sleep side by side on the cement floor, as many as 59 in one room. What they own individually could barely fill a shoebox. Yet they are the richest children I have ever met, and their smiles light up the room. Our American kids with their iPhones in hand, wearing the latest designer jeans, and eager to get their first car when it’s time to drive, are woefully impoverished in comparison.”

And I ended the article with this: While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a nice bed and a soft pillow, there’s something woefully wrong with the superficiality and carnality of our culture. Let’s learn some lessons from these super-blessed Indian orphans. As Jesus once said, ‘Life is not measured by how much you own.’ (Luke 12:15, NLT)”

So, as most of us enjoy the bounty of our American society, accumulating possessions at a breakneck pace, let’s stop and reflect on what matters most: being in right relationship with God and with those closest to us.

Nothing else compares with that.

That’s also why I often pity those who seem to have everything but whose souls are empty. Deep down, some of them probably envy us.


Dr. Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He is the author of over 40 books, including Can You be Gay and Christian?; Our Hands Are Stained With Blood; and Seize the Moment: How to Fuel the Fires of Revival. You can connect with him on Facebook, X or YouTube.

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