Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich. Proverbs 28:6
It is always a temptation for the poor to be less than honest. When we don’t have enough money, we can justify to ourselves many little deceptions. I have known Christian women who fudged a little to get a bigger discount, or to take advantage of a special offer that, strictly, they had no right to. I have known them to copy material that was copyrighted because they couldn’t afford to buy the copies they wanted. Some families aren’t strictly honest when it comes time to report deductions from their income tax. Some people copy someone else’s CD’s, software, or DVD’s instead of buying their own.
What does it mean to have integrity? It means that you are innocent of any wrongdoing, and that your character is stainless. It means to be like Daniel, whose enemies looked long and hard at his life for anything they could accuse him of, and couldn’t find anything. They actually had to make something he was doing right into a crime in order to get him! If someone looked at your life the way these enemies of Daniel’s did at his, would they be able to fault you at any point?
If you struggle with honesty, meditate on Psalm 101:7 “He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence.” We see that King David took this sin so seriously that he would not tolerate anyone who practiced it. And if David takes such a serious view of it, what does God think?
If you cheat and deceive because you think your poverty entitles you to do so, what you are saying is that God is not able to take care of you if you obey Him. You are trying to “help” him provide for you by disobeying Him. What a lack of faith and trust in God! Is the omnipotent God of the universe, who made everything and owns everything, depending on our disobedience to have our needs taken care of? How absurd!
Though this verse is a challenge to us, it is also a comfort. If we are poor and still have integrity, we have higher worth and nobility than those who are wealthy but dishonest. In the eyes of God, there is nothing shameful about poverty. Very few of the people that God has greatly used throughout history have been rich; most of them could be classified as poor. I’d rather be in their company, wouldn’t you? Whatever level of income God has ordained for us right now, let us live in a way that honors Him!
For further study:
Isaiah 29:19 “The humble also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
James 1:9-10 “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.”
Proverbs 19:1 “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.”
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Taken from Wisdom From Proverbs: Devotions for Homeschooling Moms by Barbara Coyle, Historical Fiction Unit Studies, reprinted by permission.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.