Proverbs 28:6 says, “Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.” Proverbs is a chapter that contains warnings and instructions for its readers. Verse 6 is making a comparison between one that is poor, yet upright, and one that is rich, yet is perverse. Proverbs 19:1 has a very similar thought. That says, “Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.”

So, we are considering poverty with integrity and wealth with perversity (distorted, false, crooked). A poor man that lives a clean and honest life is better than a rich man who lives a life of perversity. I suppose we could say that a rich man might LIVE BETTER, but poor and honest man will SLEEP BETTER.

In Luke 16:19-31, we have the story of a man named Lazarus and a rich man, whose name is not given. The rich man “fared sumptuously every day” while Lazarus was full of sores and had to resort to begging so that he might eat. When both died, Lazarus went to “Abraham’s bosom”, which represents Heaven. The rich man found himself “in torments.” While we are given little information about these men’s backgrounds, we realize that salvation comes only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Lazarus, although poor, was a believer in the Lord and obviously lived very meekly and poor. The rich man enjoyed his riches, probably to the point of trusting in them and hoarding them. He, being now in a position of poverty, still considered Lazarus to be a poor beggar. He asked Abraham to send Lazarus to him with just a small drop of water. Luke 16:25 tells us, “But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” In this case, life had been lived and death had come upon both these men. Because of his ‘uprightness’, Lazarus was ushered into Heaven. Because of his love for riches, the rich man began an eternity of suffering.

Have you ever wondered why the name of the beggar has been retained for us to learn while the name of the rich and influential rich man was not even recorded? We read in Proverbs 10:7, “The memory of the just is blessed: but THE NAME OF THE WICKED SHALL ROT.” While prominent and important upon the earth, this rich man is no longer is a position of power and wealth. No, he is in torment. We learn from this that it is better go to heaven in rags than to hell in embroidery!

Many men desire to be rich. Many are willing to put their careers above their families. Many consider riches as the ultimate goal. Many will stoop to low levels to gain wealth. 1 Timothy 6:10 tells us, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Notice that it’s not that MONEY is the root of all evil, it is the LOVE OF MONEY that drives men and women to gain more and more, never being content with what they have. 1 Timothy 6:8 instructs us, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”

How much better it is to simply remain poor, yet remain upright. A good testimony of godliness, honesty, and love honors and pleases our Lord. Should we strive to be poor? No, that’s not the point. We need to realize that even poverty is better than wealth when we maintain a good testimony for the Lord. There is contentment, joy, peace, etc. that is ours when we seek to live for the Lord rather than to live for ourselves. If we must commit sin (in any fashion) to gain earthly wealth, may we be wise enough to know the error of that way. (258.10)