Poverty is a controversial and sometimes contentious subject. Some see it as the result of laziness or lack of motivation. Others think it is a cultural blight that can be erased. But, as typical, extreme views overlook reality.
My experience living overseas gave me a broader view of the condition of poverty. I found that many who are poor work hard and live on next to nothing.
Another major factor with poverty is political oppression and lack of economic opportunity. And yet, an overlooked issue is character—what a person values and what they do with what they have.
Better to be an ordinary person with a servant than to be self-important but have no food. The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel. A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense. Thieves are jealous of each other’s loot, but the godly are well rooted and bear their own fruit. The wicked are trapped by their own words, but the godly escape such trouble. Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards. [vss 9-14]
(Proverbs 12:9-14; 24-28 GW) [Context– Proverbs 12]
Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards.
- What are the contrasts expressed in the first few verses? How are these contrasting persons characterized?
- What good qualities and benefits do you see related to work and good character?
- What are the contrasting actions and words in the last few verses?
- What are the good traits and benefits connected to the godly and those who work hard?
Good character is not limited by economics. It's not hindered nor weakened by poverty or riches. It's not based on circumstances. Godly character is rooted in the wisdom of God and a respect for God.
This respect is based on a genuine trust in God. A trust not only in God's existence, but confidence that God rewards those who trust in Him. True godly character elevates a person above their circumstances, whether poverty or wealth.
Make it personal...
How much do your circumstances affect what you value in life?
Do worry and anxieties in life outweigh your trust in God?
Do you take pride in doing your work well in whatever you do?
How confident are you that God rewards hard work and doing what is right?