All the brothers of a poor man hate him; How much more do his friends abandon him! He pursues them with words, but they are gone. Proverbs 19:7
Fair weather friends . . . what are they. The phrase comes from the idea of those who will be with you while the weather is good, meaning that everything is good in your life and you have no problems. But let a storm come into your life - and they abandon you in the midst of it. They are fair weather friends who only want friends who have no problems or needs. That is what our passage in Proverbs addresses today.
The brothers of a poor man hate him. The word poor here means to be a person who has very few resources and no standing or influence in society. When a man is poor - and has nothing of this world's goods or things to offer - he is not embraced by very many. Here we read that even his brothers want nothing to do with him. They don't want a "nobody" as their brother or their friend. Those who think this way miss the reality that the poor are rich in faith - a fact they would not have overlooked if they know the Scriptures.
The poor and those lacking in power and influence have not fared well over the ages. They are overlooked and under appreciated. Not only does the poor man's brothers hate him - but his friends abandon him. These are the fair weather friends mentioned at the opening of this post. Friends are not to be chosen on the basis of how much money and influence they bring to the table. Unfortunately, that is how men think in the world - and honestly - more than occasionally in the church. The mindset of, "What can you do for me," permeates the choice of friends. A lack of value on things like wisdom and godliness - only add to this bad habit.
Though the poor man puruses these fair weather friends with words, they are gone. The idea here is that they just disappear. It is not magic at work - it is just greed and human stupidity. This is truly the saddest when a person plunges into poverty due to problems, sickness, or injury. It is amazing how a series of problems when they come separate your true friends from those who only want something from you. The poor are also abandoned in places of power and influence. This is especially true in the courtroom. Being poor does not exempt you from obeying the laws of our land - but often it means you do not have the kind of representation that money can buy. As a result, the poor often feel jilted by our system of justice because of how the rich can use their money to obtain a better result.
There is one place though where the poor can receive justice - they can receive compassion and mercy. That is at the throne of Almighty God. The Bible instructs us that God is not a respecter of persons. It does not matter what you have or don't have. God's justice is blind to those things - and is focused on the truth. He warned His judges not to take bribes from the rich to pervert justice. He also said that He gives grace to the poor - and that the poor and the rich are alike to Him. When the world turns its back on the poor - the Lord will not abandon him. If ever there were a case where money could buy influence it would have been with the rich man and Lazarus. But the lesson we learn from that story is that God metes out justice and mercy with exacting perfection. The rich man was held accountable for his riches and lack of mercy - while the poor man was shown mercy, having faced great difficulties in life. Both will be held to a judgment based on their sins and whether they have been justified by faith - looking to the Messiah as the One who has paid for their sins and given them a standing of righteousness before God. Though a poor man may not have a friend or a brother who will stand with him in this life, if he knows the Lord Jesus Christ . . . he has a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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