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Seeking Wisdom, Day 3 – The Value of Rubies

January 27, 2016

(Proverbs 3: 13-15) Happy is the man who finds wisdom and gains understanding. (Wisdom) is better than silver and fine gold, more precious than rubies. Nothing you desire can be compared to wisdom.

Most of us like pretty things, and if they are expensive and uncommon, they are especially desired. What can one do with rubies and diamonds? We may use them to adorn ourselves and to impress others.

Charles Dickens uses memorable characters, often stereotypes, to illustrate human flaws and inconsistencies. I refer again to his novel, Great Expectations, that many students have read in high school, but perhaps have forgotten. Miss Havisham, an old woman deserted by her fiancee many years before we meet her, sits in her boudoir wearing the yellowed wedding dress and veil, enveloped in the dust and decay of the intervening ages, but on her dressing table are jewels. We can assume rubies are among them. She picks up one and holds it up to her young ward, Estella. “Yours one day, my dear, and you will use it right. Now play cards with this boy.” She indicates Pip, our hero, a neighboring boy whom she has summoned to her decaying mansion for this strange purpose.

“Why?” asks Estella.

“So you can break his heart.”

Such instruction portends trouble. Through the years women have used precious stones to feel valuable. Diamonds, pearls and rubies do nothing to enhance virtue. Jewels do not enhance character.

Dickens, a writer who scrambled to pay his bills, reminds us that possession of wealth does not always make one happy or productive. King Solomon, possessor of great wealth, admonishes us to wear mercy and trust, loyalty and kindness, to bind them around our necks and wear them on our hearts.

Honor the Lord with your wealth, and don’t lose sight of common sense, for wisdom will refresh your soul more than rubies.

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