15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,
but poverty is the ruin of the poor.
16 The wages of the righteous is life,
but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.
17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
Preoccupation with wealth is a dangerous thing, regardless of how much you have. The rich are tempted to pride, which leads to all kinds of folly, thinking their wealth will protect them from the consequences. The poor on the other hand are tempted to envy, which ruins their peace and “rots the bones.” If not wealth, what should we preoccupy ourselves with? After all, “wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”
“The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.” While there is a great gulf between rich and poor in resources, righteousness is equally accessible to all. Resources may determine standard of living, but quality of life comes from conduct and character. What danger is there to those preoccupied with good conduct? What are the risks of developing strong character? It is through these things, not wealth, that life is attained. Neglect them, as the wicked, to your own peril.
“Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” Your own quality of life is reason enough to conduct yourself well, but there is more at stake than that. You also have the opportunity to influence those around you, to encourage either growth or decay. Discipline is not easy but it is worthwhile – it is the only means of cultivating a life worth living.