“Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.” [Proverbs 19:1]
What Does It Say?
I think this is such an interesting verse because it is so opposite of our culture. Anything that starts off implying that being poor is a better option immediately grabs my attention. The overarching theme of this verse contrasts the idea of integrity and perverse speech. Perverse is defined as “turned away from what is right and good.” So perverse speech can refer to slander, gossip, lies, or anything else not “right and good.” Since in the case of Proverbs 19:1 perverse speech is paired with integrity, it is probably referring to dishonesty or a general lack of strong moral principles.
Overall, this passage is making the point that integrity is better than riches. You can be poor according to the world’s standards, but rich in God’s Kingdom. The writer of Proverbs, King Solomon, is making the claim that being a person of integrity and a strong moral character is more valuable than having a lot of money, status or possessions. This also lines up with the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21. Here Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust does not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Riches come and go. No one can take your integrity away from you. It allows people to trust you, it makes you more reliable in general, and it honors God. Prioritizing what God prioritizes seems to be a huge deal to God and should be a important to us.
So I would love for you to answer some questions with me:
What are the ways that I compromise my integrity?
How can I be a person of integrity today?
Father, thank You for who You are and for all that You have done for me. Thank You for dying for me. Please help me to be a person of integrity and show me areas where I can grow. Give me Your perspective. May I see myself how You see me, and may I see others how You see them. Amen.