Popularity is far too often determined by what a person has or does not have, rather than by whether they are a person of character and value. Today's proverb reminds us of this as we are faced with how people are judged by their bank account rather than by who they truly are in life.
The poor is hated by even his neighbor. That is a strong statement, but unfortunately, a true one. James warns in chapter 2 of those who judge by the mere appearance of wealth in the church. His statement is fascinating and will bring much light on our current verse here in Proverbs 14.
"My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" (James 2:1-5)
Here James confronts the attitude that respects the rich, but despises the poor. The rich are recognized by their clothing and their jewelry as they walk into the meeting of the church. As a result, they are treated with great respect and deference. The poor, whose clothes seem to betray their poverty, are treated with disrepect and disdain. One if given the seat of honor - the other is left to sit on the floor. The problem with this kind of judgment is that it is motivated by evil motives. Honor is given by what a person makes - not what God has made of them. Respect is shown because of a person's wealth of money - not their wealth of godliness and character. These things are done also because of selfishness, because we figure in the end that we can "get something" from them. We will profit from the relationship - but the profit we seek is only monetary. We shun spiritual blessing and true wealth.
We are reminded hat the poor of this world are usually rich in faith. We devalue that and forget that God sees all and knows all. This is evil - and shows great disrespect for Both God and His Word. It also usually aligns us with those who do harm to God's people. The poor, we read, are rich in faith and are heirs of the kingdom.
Ultimately we need to remember that Jesus was poor as He lived on this earth. He spoke of how the birds of the air had nests - but He had no where to lay His head. It is not that the poor are automatically saved - due to their poverty. It is that they have nothing in this world - thus they are far more ready to hear what God says - not being blinded by their money or their possessions. If we despise the poor - we in all honesty despise our Lord Jesus as well. Yet he is rich in what truly matters - and from what we read in James - the poor are usually rich in faith as well. That is why we need to be wise and value people not on a basis of their financial bottom line - but with true judgment - on the basis of their character and their wisdom gained from their intimacy with God and their study of His Word.