The ransom of a man's life are his riches: but the poor hears not rebuke.
Read Chapter 13
Ambrose of Milan
The riches of a person ought to work to the redemption of his soul, not to its destruction. Wealth is redemption if one uses it well. It is a snare if one does not know how to use it. For what is a person’s money if not provision for the journey? A great amount is a burden; a little is useful. We are wayfarers in this life; many are walking along, but a person needs to make a good passage. The Lord Jesus is with him who makes a good passage.
Suppose you are an ignoble and undistinguished person, poor and of lowly origin, without home or city, sick, in need of daily sustenance, in dread of the powerful, cowering before everyone because of your abject condition. “But he that is poor,” says the Scripture, “bears not reprehension.” Yet, do not despair or cast aside every good hope because your present state is quite unenviable. Rather, turn your thoughts to the blessings already granted you by God and to those reserved by promise for the future. Homily on the WORDS “GIVE HEED TO THYSEL
As Solomon says, “A man’s own wealth is the redemption of his soul.” This might be temporal wealth which one distributes and gives to the poor so that one’s righteousness may endure forever, or it might be spiritual wealth in the form of the righteousness that one has attained by taking pity on the poor or by doing other good things.
Just as the foot is the measure of the sandal, so the physical needs of each person are the measure of what he should possess. Whatever is excessive—the things they call adornments, the trappings of the rich—are not adornments but a burden for the body. If one is to use violence to ascend to heaven, it is necessary to carry the good staff of holy deeds and first to share our goods with the oppressed before laying hold of the true rest. Scripture declares that really “his own wealth is the redemption of the soul of man,” that is, if a person is rich, he will obtain salvation by sharing his wealth. .
The Lord yearns for believers’ souls more than for their riches. We read in the Proverbs, “The ransom of a man’s soul are his own riches.” We may, indeed, take a person’s own riches to be those which do not come from someone else or from plunder; according to the precept, “honor God with your just labors.” But the sense is better if we understand a person’s “own riches” to be those hidden treasures which no thief can steal and no robber wrest from him.
“The redemption of the soul of a man is his own wealth.” What are you saying? What do you mean by exalting so much wealth? First of all he [Solomon] did not speak about just any wealth but that which is produced through honest activities. Poverty is not, therefore, an evil thing. Rather, he says that no one who wants to may threaten someone who is poor; indeed how can some one terrify one who possesses nothing? For this reason this kind of life is devoid of afflictions. Or, maybe he [Solomon] calls “his own wealth” “righteousness” which snatches him away from death. So the one who is poor in virtue does not have a mind at peace when he suffers threats or the declaration of a punishment. Commentary on the Proverbs of Solomon, Fragment
Against those who have given money that they might be entirely undisturbed by evil, an accusation cannot be brought. For they have sustained the loss and sacrifice of their goods that they might not hurt or destroy their soul, which others for the sake of filthy lucre have not done. And yet the Lord says, “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” And again, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” In these things, then, they have shown themselves the servants of God, inasmuch as they have hated, trodden under foot and despised money, and have thus fulfilled what is written: “The ransom of a man’s life are his riches.”