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Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23

The book of Proverbs often can be taken wildly out of context. A pastor once quoted Proverbs 22:6: “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” The quote of this Proverb was intended as a promise to a family. The heartbreaking aspect was that the family had two older children that were brought up in a community of faith and yet were not walking in faith. The family had two younger children as well and the pastor did not think about the older two while providing this “promise” for the younger two.

Many have said it before, “Proverbs are not promises.” This statement is key to keep in mind when studying the book of Proverbs.

There is a consistent theme in these selected verses that revolve around care for the poor. The Proverbs are not promises, but that does not mean the reader should ignore the rich wisdom found within this wonderful book.

Proverbs 22:1-2 says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. The rich and the poor have this in common: the Lord is the maker of them all.”

This serves as a reminder that wealth is not to be the focus of those seeking after God. Instead, those seeking after God should remember that God is creator of all: rich and poor. No matter the circumstance, amount of money, or choices made, God loves all of humanity.

Proverbs 22:8-9 says, “Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of anger will fail.

Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.”

Danny Meyer, Restauranteur, talks about the 5 A’s of Mistake Making. 1) Be Aware. 2) Acknowledge the Mistake. 3) Apologize for the Mistake. 4) Act on it. 5) Apply Additional Generosity.[1] He tells a story of one of his waiter spilling oil all over the back of a lady wearing a very expensive dress. They ordered a new one to her room by the end of the night, gave her a gift basket and a gift card to return to the restaurant.

This example of mistake making, and especially the last step of Applying Additional Generosity, is not limited to the world of business. Those who passionately seek after God should live in such a way far beyond the levels lived out in restaurants. “those who are generous are blessed…” There are actual studies that show that random acts of kindness are not only good for those on the receiving end but those giving as well![2] So, those following after God should strive to live generously and care for everyone.

Proverbs 22:22-23 says, “Do not rob the poor because they are poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate; for the Lord pleads their cause and despoils of life those who despoil them.”

This passage also has an emphasis on care for the poor. In the New Testament the Incarnation did not take place so the powerful could become more powerful or continue to oppress the weak. Christ came to earth and associated with those in the margins. He brought light in dark places. He gave hope to the hopeless.

Followers of God should strive to live following the example laid out in these Proverbs that are also lived out in Christ: care and concern for those in the margins. What does it mean to make room for all at the table?

It means that the Lord is maker of all: rich and poor.

It means that those who are “generous are blessed” are so because “they share their bread with the poor.”

It means that the Lord pleads the case of the poor and afflicted.

It means that when it comes to choosing sides, siding with the poor and marginalized vs the rich and powerful, may those who claim Christ as Lord and Savior be found faithful in welcoming all at the table.


[1] Global Leadership Summit 2018


#Lectionary #proverbs