Today’s Proverb is chapter 28. It’s packed with all sorts of tidey little bits of universally large truths, but for today we’ll focus on verse 6 and verse 13.
V. 6 says, “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”
V. 13 states, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
I love how the bible, in revealing the Kingdom, constantly shows us that we, as believers in Jesus and children of God, are living in an upside-down world that goes against everything that the culture around us promotes. In these two verses alone we are told that the folks who are going to get the upper-crust of the Kingdom are those who are the poor truth-tellers. Oddly enough, or maybe not so oddly enough, I feel that the surrounding culture celebrates those who do “whatever it takes” to get the “more” in life.
So what are the nuggets in these two verses that we can hold onto and store away as treasure for a later date? Well, let’s dive in. In verse 6 we are told that, essentially, the poor man with integrity is and will be better off than the rich man who is crooked. But, in all honesty, that word ‘poor’ kinda confuses me. Does it mean that I am supposed to be financially poor and by doing so that’s how I get to a place of integrity? Well, let’s unpack the idea of ‘poor’.
In 2 Samuel Nathan tells King David a story about two men who owned animals; a rich man and a poor man. When a visitor came to their land the rich man gave nothing from his own stores or his own flocks, but, simply took the poor man’s one lamb, killed it, and fed the visitor with it. Earlier in the story the relationship that the poor man and his children had with this lamb is described, even going as far as to describe the lamb as “...a daughter…” to this poor man. It was a relationship of care, depth, love, and integrity. The rich man had none of these qualities residing between him and his property. This is the point that Soloman is trying to get across here in Proverbs 28. That a poor man tends to have less standing between him and a depth of integrity; the depth of relationship. He’s got less between himself and his ability to be merciful to others because he so deeply relies on God’s own mercy for himself.
In today’s culture the word ‘poor’ had a massively negative connotation that blankets it. We’re basically told that being poor is the worst thing that could happen to a person. But, as we described earlier, the Kingdom is an upside-down place that takes the ideas and thoughts of the world and flips them on their head. Poor in this Kingdom-context is a state in which a person can reside, freely-open to the things that God has called them to. Unlike the person who is tethered to the riches and longings of the world. The interesting thing here is that someone with great monetary wealth can still be poor in the eyes of the world. Just because someone has money doesn’t mean they can’t be poor, giving all of themselves away and living in integrity.
As we turn to verse 13 the terms prosperity and mercy are offered to us. Here, in this verse, we’re basically given a small roadmap to get to that odd place of being “poor”. It’s prosperity through confession and the resulting mercy of our Father God.
This confession that we speak of in the church is something that has bread a lot of icky, uncomfortable feelings throughout the centuries. We’ve been presented with the idea that confession equals scolding and who of us wants to offer ourselves up to be scolded? But, in reality, confession is summed up quite nicely by the idea that, instead of being in trouble and running away from the help of our Father, we are to say, “I’m in trouble, I need my Father!” It’s a total shift in the way we view God’s goodness and, wait for it, mercy.
Again, verse 13,
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
We get all caught up on the tough part of the actual confession and totally forget about the mercy and love that waits for us in the hands and heart of our good Father. And this is our key. The key that leads us to a deeper understanding of what it means to be poor. The poor in the Kingdom of God are constantly living in a state of utter prosperity simply because they live a life of integrity that’s founded fully on God’s mercy. So today, let’s seek the “poor way”, the way that leads to less of us and more of God. The way that leads to an unfathomable abundance of prosperity and mercy that only makes sense in the Kingdom of God.