Transparent Wisdom

A rich person is wise in his own eyes,

but a poor person with understanding sees right through him. (Proverbs 28:11 GW)

(Context—Proverbs 28:1-14 GW)

American’s have a hate-love relationship with wealth. Most people would like to be rich and famous. We fawn over people who have made it big. And yet, we resent them and their wealth when we don’t have it ourselves.

One reason for resentment to rise is the arrogance of those who are rich. Not only do they act and talk as if they’re better than others—they think they’re more right than the rest of us.

Their status and wealth go to their head. But it’s a deception. It’s their own sense of rightness. But other people—especially those poorer than them—often see right through them.

Not all those who are poor understand this. I’ve lived in and visited other nations where despots rule with an iron fist clutching the wealth they’ve stolen from their own people. Still, people continue to elect and support such rulers with a futile hope they’ll benefit in some way.

Those of us who aren’t rich and powerful but who’ve rubbed shoulders with wealthy people in daily life—we know they are people just like us. Their wealth isn’t the problem. It’s how they allow it to affect them.

too often, the rich who aren’t arrogant are the exception

All rich people aren’t arrogant. Some know their wealth and status can disappear or diminish faster than it accumulated. Others see their wealth as a responsibility—they’re compelled to handle it and use it wisely.

Too often, the rich who aren’t arrogant are the exception not the rule.

What about the poor who have enough understanding to see right through the wealthy who are arrogant? Unless we keep our own mind and heart in check, we’ll become resentful rather than discerning.

For many years, I racked up lots of air miles by flying overseas often. This gained me certain benefits and privileges. On one flight, after taking my seat in the economy section of the plane, I was upgraded to business class.

As I made my way upfront towards the privileged section, another passenger made snide comments to me in an effort to make me feel bad. His misplaced resentment was because of jealousy and his own desire for the same privilege.

We only see through a rich person’s arrogance and false sense of rightness when we have sensible values and the perspective that comes with understanding.

A few verses prior to verse 11 above, we’re reminded of something important—

Better to be a poor person who has integrity than to be rich and double-dealing. (Prov 28:6 GW)

If we don’t want to be filled with resentment towards those who are rich nor caught up with the desire for their riches, we need integrity—a soundness of character.

When our values and sense of worth aren’t attached to what’s fleeting and tied to this life only, we’re more apt to be content with what we have, appreciate the people in our life, and be confident in who we are as a person.

we need integrity—a soundness of character

When we have integrity and true understanding, we’ll see people for who they are and things for what they are. And this carries over into the next life.


When our values and sense of worth aren’t attached to what’s fleeting and tied to this life only and when we have integrity and true understanding, we’ll see people for who they are and things for what they are.

Prayer Focus—

If you struggle with resentment towards the rich and powerful, ask for God’s wisdom so you can have a better perspective on everything. Ask for discernment and understanding. God promises to give us the wisdom we lack (James 1:5).


Would you like a free study guide for Proverbs?

Click Here to get a Free Study Guide for Proverbs

A Time for Judgment

People have a penchant for judgment. This is true worldwide. We are quick to judge or condemn someone as guilty or wrong. You and me, we all do it at some point.

We look for someone or something to blame when something goes wrong. We are especially quick to accuse or find fault with those who disagree with us or have a different view of things.

Yet, when we are accused, blamed, or condemned, we're quick to claim our own innocence or at least justify ourselves in some way. When our wrong becomes clear, we'll quickly plead for mercy. And yet, we have a hard time extending mercy and forgiveness to those who seek it.

A Cost Too High

How much is a life worth? Life is priceless! A person's value is too high to calculate.

Yet, in wrongful-death court cases, various amounts of money are awarded to the family of the victim. The amount varies depending on the circumstances, judge, jury, or even public opinion.

But do any of these monetary awards equal the value of the life lost? No.

The Problem with Pleasure

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

We live like millionaires. I don't have a million dollars, nor am I expecting to any time soon. But compared to the majority of the world's population, the average American lives like a millionaire.

Fifty years ago, flight travel was uncommon for most Americans, not anymore. Looking back to the sixties, the average home was smaller than today, cars were bigger, gas was way cheaper, and salaries were a lot smaller.

Unless you've traveled to under-developed nations—what I call MOTROW—the idea that you live like a millionaire may seem hard to accept. But if you ask those who want to immigrate to the US, you might start to understand.

And yet, with all that we have and is available to get, we still want more. King Solomon, who was beyond wealthy and able to pursue as much pleasure as he wanted, realized the problem of pleasure.


I thought to myself, “Now I want to experiment with pleasure and enjoy myself.” But even this was pointless. I thought, “Laughter doesn’t make any sense. What does pleasure accomplish?” I explored ways to make myself feel better by drinking wine. I also explored ways to do [some] foolish things. During all that time, wisdom continued to control my mind. I was able to determine whether this was good for mortals to do during their brief lives under heaven. [vss 1-3]

I accomplished some great things: I built houses for myself. I planted vineyards for myself. I made gardens and parks for myself. I planted every kind of fruit tree in them. I made pools to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves. In addition, slaves were born in my household. I owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.[vss 4-7]

I also gathered silver and gold for myself. I gathered the treasures of kings and provinces. I provided myself with male and female singers and the pleasures men have with one concubine after another. So I grew richer than anyone in Jerusalem before me. Yet, my wisdom remained with me.10 If something appealed to me, I did it. I allowed myself to have any pleasure I wanted, since I found pleasure in my work. This was my reward for all my hard work. [vss 8-10]

But when I turned to look at all that I had accomplished and all the hard work I had put into it, I saw that it was all pointless. [It was like] trying to catch the wind. I gained nothing [from any of my accomplishments] under the sun. [vs 11]

(Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 GW) [Context– Ecclesiastes 2]

Key phrase— What does pleasure accomplish?

[bctt tweet="What does pleasure accomplish?"]

Digging Deeper...

What is the spokesman's (Eccl 1:1) intended pursuit? What was his conclusion afterwards?

What does Solomon say was a constant guide to him? How was it helpful?

What are the things Solomon did and what did he acquire in his pursuit of pleasure?

What was his (Solomon's) realization, and what helped him arrive at it?


Way too many of us fantasize what it would be like to be really rich and powerful. Do you think not? Look at who and what we venerate. Athletes and entertainers make outrageous amounts of money, and live at a level we can only imagine. CEO's receive huge salaries and bonuses, and act as if they deserve it, even when their companies lose money.

Even within the church, many pastors and leaders of ministries receive well-above-average salaries, while churches claim to build bigger and better buildings for the kingdom. This tells me we haven't learned from the wisest and wealthiest king of Israel. The problem of pleasure, and wealth, is that it's never enough.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again to consider and answer the following questions

Do you secretly (or not so secretly) wish you could win the lottery, or get rich some other way?

What are the things you find yourself daydreaming or fantasizing about?

Do you envy or resent people whose lives seem better than yours? Or, do you envy and resent them?

What do you think is key to being content with the life you already have?