The poor face many troubles in this present world, the Bible says. They are often ignored by those with power (Proverbs 18:23) and abandoned by would-be friends (Proverbs 19:4,7). Certainly many students at NRCA feel left out and mistreated because their families are not rich. Their parents can’t buy them the expensive clothes and technology and trips that they see other students enjoy. Of course, compared to most people from most of history, even the poorest of modern Americans is ridiculously rich. Our standard of living is unbelievably awesome when you compare it to people with who lives with just a couple sets of clothes, a hut the size of your bedroom, and rarely enough food to get full. Just getting perspective can help all of us a lot. But you can’t avoid seeing others at school having what you don’t and feeling like you are less important than them. Proverbs tells you who feel poor today that having integrity (19:1,5,9), real friends who like you for who you really are (18:24), and the wisdom of walking closely with Christ (19:2,8) are what really matter in life
But while today’s passage speaks most directly to the poor, there is a message implied in it for the rich, too. The rich struggle with gaining false friends through their wealth rather than their personalities, interests, and character (19:4). How many times have those of you with a lot of money wondered if certain “friends” just wanted to hang with you or come over to your house to use your stuff? At the same time, those with lots of money can often buy opportunities rather than earn them (19:6,10), which costs them chances to see their true capabilities. The modern “pay-to-play” travel sports phenomenon, for example, is built on everyone’s desire to be a sports superstar. Many people are making a lot of money by feeding middle school students’ dreams of collegiate and professional success whether they have the required talent or not. Proverbs tells those of you with much by the world’s standards not to put too much stock in your earthy wealth and what it can do for you. Instead, focus on seeking the same things that your less wealthy classmates are encouraged to seek: personal honesty and hard work, trustworthy and kind friends, and a deep personal relationship with the Lord.
The Text (Proverbs 18:23 – 19:10)
18:23 The poor man uses entreaties, But the rich answers roughly.
24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
19:1 Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
2 Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, And he sins who hastens with his feet.
3 The foolishness of a man twists his way, And his heart frets against the Lord.
4 Wealth makes many friends, But the poor is separated from his friend.
5 A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who speaks lies will not escape.
6 Many entreat the favor of the nobility, And every man is a friend to one who gives gifts.
7 All the brothers of the poor hate him; How much more do his friends go far from him! He may pursue them with words, yet they abandon him.
8 He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; He who keeps understanding will find good.
9 A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who speaks lies shall perish.
10 Luxury is not fitting for a fool, Much less for a servant to rule over princes.
Questions to Think About
- After reading today’s devotion, do you think that you identify more with the problems of the poor or the rich? Why?
- How might NRCA be a different school if the poorer and richer students both focused on loving Jesus and each other instead of comparing what stuff their parents can buy them?