Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.
In this proverb, short but profound, we find advice which is less about food than wealth in general. Meals of vegetables, being cheaper, were more common in Biblical days; meals featuring fattened calves were luxuries, saved for very special occasions. But here, the author of Proverbs advises that a cheap meal served in an atmosphere of love is better than a luxurious meal served in an atmosphere of hatred.
This seems counter-intuitive at first. Wouldn’t we all want to eat the expensive, sumptuous food rather than the cheap stuff, no matter what kind of “atmosphere” it’s served in? But in this proverb, spiritual riches and material riches are contrasted; the spiritual riches of love are better than the culinary riches of meat, or indeed any other kind of worldly material wealth.
This strikes to the heart of our modern lifestyle, which often prizes instantly-gratified material wishes over concepts like family ties, loyalty, friendship, and compassion. All our wishes for material wealth–all the “fattened calves” we covet–have their place, but they pale in comparison to love, in all its various expressions. Material riches are inevitably consumed and discarded, like the fattened calf at a large dinner, but spiritual riches are eternal…like God’s love for us.
So, considering all this, which kind of riches do you want in your own life?