Proverbs 19:1

“Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity

  than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.”

Proverbs 19:1 ESV

Note here, the connection between integrity and wisdom. In this case, this connection is presented in contrast as integrity vs. fool.

The words “better is a poor person” are counterintuitive in a consumer-driven culture where more, particularly wealth, is considered better. But the writer is not, as some might misunderstand, saying “poor is better.” He qualifies the type of poor person who is better. That is, the poor person who “walks in his integrity.” The point here isn’t being poor or rich, it is being honest.

Since the goal is integrity, the author is saying – again, in contrast to worldly ideals of wealth and power – being poor with integrity is better than any other state of being without integrity. The writer says exactly this in Proverbs 28:6 (ESV), “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”

Now, to close the loop on the contrast between integrity and fool, I should say that integrity is a matter of wisdom. Thus, those who lack integrity also lack wisdom. In other words, those who lack integrity are fools.

What is your commitment to wisdom? Can you be satisfied to be “a poor man who walks in his integrity,” rather than “a rich man who is crooked in his ways”? Or, is wealth – or worldly comfort – more important to you than integrity? To check yourself, examine the areas where you are willing to cut corners.

Lord, help us to examine our hearts accurately and to be so committed to integrity that we can be satisfied with living in poverty IF we have integrity.

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