Of Houses and Tents


Proverbs 14:11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish.

Sometimes a tremendous amount of theology can be packed into a very few words. Then too, what isn’t said in such an economy of compactness can be as powerful as what is. The short text above is one such case in point.

Note first that there is NO assumption that the upright necessarily dwell in houses, and the wicked in tents. Just the opposite is cited. Being upright doesn’t earn you an earthly station of wealth or even guarantee living above the poverty level. Paul reminds Timothy that there are those who believe that godliness is a means to of gain – of obtaining earthly and material goods. (1 Timothy 6:5–11) And prefaces his comments in that regard by saying that those who do such “are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth.”  Heavy words for sure.

We need to be clear on this point – being a Christian is in no way to be construed as either a promise or an inference of material wealth or even financial stability. The upright often dwell in hovels, while the wicked often luxuriate in palaces. So be it.

Note secondly, that “flourishing” is not dependent upon either status or material possessions. Solomon chose his word carefully here – or rather – the Spirit gave him the best of choices in words here. As an agricultural term – to “flourish” is to bud, to grow, to have shoots like a beautiful flower. To grow in beauty, no flower needs a nice house. Only good soil, water, sunshine and air. Imagine, the Believer needs no external props to grow and blossom in beauty before God. Material wealth vs. organic beauty are two things which simply aren’t even on the same plane. They belong to different realms of life. The humblest, most poverty stricken and broken saint can flourish in Christ and in godliness without limitation. And would we rather other human beings admire our houses, or that our Savior and King inhale our fragrance, and delight in our beauty?

Note lastly that there is no shame in a tent, and no virtue in a house. In God’s eyes, they are ultimately irrelevant. Meaningless. Flowers don’t grow in granite counter tops, sealed concrete garage floors, drywall, wood frames, shingles or fireplaces. Nor do they grow in canvass walls or ceilings. They grow in soil. They blossom and bloom in the ground where they are planted – without regard to being surrounded by architectural paving stones, or simple cobblestones drawn from the field. It is the soil, not the dwelling. The sun, not the lights. The water, not the wine or the coffee. The air, not the forced air heat or the air-conditioning.

Let no one ever make you ashamed of small means, nor elevate you because you’ve obtained or inherited much. Take your sense of self-worth from the smile of your Redeemer. That, Dear one, is the most lavish reality one can experience.

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