Friday, April 15, 2011

Proverbs 19: 4 (chapter 19, verse 4) commentary

4 ¶ Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.
Proverbs 14:20 The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends.
Take the case of two neighbors, both poor but both friends. One man’s increase in circumstance, the sudden acquiring of wealth or position, will lead him to have many new “friends” and often leads him away from his old friends from his poorer state. You just don’t hang around with the same crowd when things go well for you. In America everyone assumes they have the chance to be rich. Other than winning a lottery that’s simply not true for most. Most don’t have the energy, intellect, passion, genius, education, background, emotional intelligence, thrift, or connections to make it big. Most of us are average, by the definition of average. We aren’t going to found a multi-million dollar concern, invent something more popular than sliced bread, discover a cure for a horrible disease, or a way to accomplish some great technological marvel. It’s just not going to happen. Get over it. But, if you do manage to do well, to accomplish something unique, awesome, or fantastic, to acquire great wealth, or even just wealth, don’t forget the people you grew up with, relatives, friends, etc. The greatest men and women that I’ve known have made something important of themselves and then reached down and given a hand up to someone who couldn’t have done it themselves. I have been on the receiving end of such a gift, even recently, and I must say it will bring tears to your eyes when you realize that the friend or relative who has “done well” has a big enough heart to look back where he or she came from and help someone move forward. Don’t forget people if you become blessed enough to move up the socioeconomic ladder. You might not make the papers but I am pretty sure God will be pleased.
Now, for another turn for this Proverb. In America, we have come to expect certain things in the last eighty or ninety years with regard to the nature of our society. We still value wealth and success and we still admire or sometimes envy (Christians should never) people of renown. But, the bulk of us also expect a decent opportunity, a decent job, at a decent pay with the ability to purchase our own home, send a child to college, and maybe take a vacation to visit Uncle Buford in Ozark, Alabama in our own car. We would like the chance to grow old but to not have to eat pet food because we’re starving or to burn our furniture in the fireplace for heat. We hope to be able to go to the doctor when we inevitably get sick, not be a burden on our children, and to die with as little pain as possible. There are some who say those are unreasonable expectations, that the country can no longer afford those conditions of life. The common man, the poor man, is separated from his neighbor who has been blessed enough to rise above. We don’t talk about being responsible for each other anymore. We elevate the gospel of ‘me firstism’ and ‘what’s mine is mine and keep your paws off’. Sometimes it’s called the Free Market, or sometimes Objectivism, but whatever it is, the Proverbs stands at all times, that the wealthy makes many friends in powerful places, in government even, and the poor is separated from his neighbor.
America no longer thinks what America thought for that brief period of time in history, that we, as a nation, are our brother’s keeper, a Biblical response based on what went on between Cain and Abel. We’ve forgotten about Joseph’s reign over Egypt beginning in Genesis 41 in a desperate time. We don’t like to read how the early Jewish Christians lived in Jerusalem (Acts 2:44-45) or about Paul’s admonitions to the churches in 2 Corinthians 8:7-15. We, as Christians, have rejected the notion, far too often, the fact even, that all of our money is in actuality God’s money, not our own, and we think that my desire to get wealth is more important than my brother or sister’s or even the elderly brother or sister’s need.
Now, to the Christian specifically: you have received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, have believed Him and believed on Him, and now His Spirit, the Spirit of the Living God, dwells inside you. You understand things that unsaved people do not. You know someone they don’t know. Maybe you have an advanced understanding of the Bible as you’ve read the true Bible over and over again. You have great spiritual wealth, a fantastic inheritance, and you’ll have an eternity to enjoy it. Don’t forget those people who are still poor; either the unsaved among your friends or relatives and acquaintances who haven’t been blessed with the salvation from God. Don’t forget those Christians who are still babies, poor in spirit, who maybe aren’t where you are spiritually but certainly are where you were. Don’t forget what it was like when you didn’t know Christ or when you did know Him but weren’t sure about things or didn’t understand the Bible or were naive and easily deceived by tricksters and manipulators. Reach back, reach down, take someone by the hand and lift them up, help them along. You have many new friends now, and many people have been added to your spiritual family, or rather you to theirs, but don’t separate yourself from those less fortunate, less blessed. Don’t forget the ones you left behind.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

1 comment:

Bridget Jones said...

I came across your blog today, searching Proverb 19:4 commentaries - thank you for your insight regarding the "poor" in spiritual wealth. True, that we must help them with our wealth in Christ. I've not processed it that way - something to ponder on! Appreciate your thoughts.