6 ¶ Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.
There are several ways of looking at this Proverb from the most obvious, literal way to some very spiritual ways for the Christian. The first thing that is important to note is we need to have a handle on what a person’s ways are. Is it their manner of living, their personal attitude, the way they handle problems, or just what are a person’s ways?
In the following verse, ways is a reference to the Law given by God to the ancient Hebrews through Moses.
Deuteronomy 5:33 Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.
So, the commandments of the Lord are called His ways.
Deuteronomy 8:6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.
A man’s ways are the way he lives day by day and moment by moment, step by step.
Job 31:4 Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?
Man’s ways are often and usually different than God’s ways. Here we see ways as thoughts by the method of parallel phrasing.
Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
When man’s ways line up with God’s ways for him, then he is right. As one of the fundamental understandings of the Christian is that he is wholly incapable of pleasing and obeying God without God’s intervention through His Holy Spirit by the method of speaking to the heart through His words in His Bible how can we take this verse, written literally under the Law, to the Christian, saved purely by God’s grace and mercy?
Jesus said that it is out of the thoughts that evil and sin proceed.
Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
And Paul, speaking through the wisdom given to him by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 3:15) says that we are to bring our thoughts into subjection to Christ.
2Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
He also says that the Bible will discern those thoughts, knowing what our real intentions are.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
So, let’s move beyond the obvious and literal explanation of this verse under the Law, that it is better to be poor and right with God than it is to be rich and perverse in your ways, something which is obvious to every one with any common sense. Just as the reverse is true, it being better to be rich and right with God than to be poor and wicked.
The American Christian who has everything to commend himself as spiritually rich; freedom of religion and conscience, a great church, much access to the Bible, commentaries, great preaching, and an opportunity regularly to meet with the saints and to spread the gospel and yet, is perverse in his thoughts and actions is in far worse shape than the Sudanese Christian who has not even so much as seen the printed word, a copy of the Bible, but has committed himself to Christ’s keeping and faithfulness to Him even in the face of torture, mutilation, and death by an oppressor of another religion.
The poorest Christian in the jungles of the Phillipines hedged in on every side by fanatics of other religions, hunger, disease, and hardship who has to walk miles to hear any preaching of God’s word and that under great danger, and who has to share a Bible with someone else, and yet is faithful to Christ, is far better off in his or her relationship with God than the Christian in Pennsylvania who attends church when nothing good is on TV, rarely cracks open his Bible, and thinks of prayer as some meaningless poem you mutter hurriedly before dinner or repeat with your child before bed, and who views things of God as for church and the rest of the week follows the perverse ways of the world.
The most impoverished Christian in the heart of Africa who is barely able to eat enough to keep body and soul together and who is oppressed on every side by corrupt leaders and haters of Christ and Christians but is faithful to Christ and His ways is far better off than the Christian in the heart of Alabama who listens to every TV or radio preacher, lots of gospel songs by his favorite celebrities, and calls himself a Christian and yet, is so carnal and worldly he reeks of it.
It is better to have nothing and Christ than to have everything you ever desired and not to have Him or to claim His mercy and grace and then live like the devil. We need to think on that the next time we start being fearful of some politician whittling away at our freedom. Perhaps God will make us poor so that we can be rich.