Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 19:22
"What is desirable in a man is his lovingkindness, and it is better to be a poor man than a liar"
This sums up the law and the prophets even shorter than the two great commandments. Lovingkindness is the key to a great man. How much do you have?
what is desirable in a man is his lovingkindness
The word lovingkindnessis being translated as loyalty following some higher critical thinking about the nature of the covenant between God and Israel, but the word chesedhas always been translated as love or lovingkindness. It is the nature of the relationship between God and Israel. It is meeting needs, pursuing, and pleasing – the same as New Testament love.
How many people did you love today? This is what is desirable. Did you love your children and your spouse and those around you today? Did you overcome your own selfishness on a number of occasions today so that the love of God showed through?
There is in the word chesedor, lovingkindness, all the various strains that are in the fruit of the Spirit later in the New Testament. If God flows through a person, then these qualities of love exhibit themselves.
Kindness is a focus of all love – giving mercy, not demanding strict justice, lack of bitterness for real or imagined slights, pleasant helpfulness, willingness to forgive, acting with graciousness.
Many can act out of strength and superiority, but is your love tender and merciful? In many circles it does not even look like love without this type of kindness. What is desirable in a man is a tender kindness that meets the needs of others.
When one gives mercy, one treats the other person, the other driver, and the person behind the counter with more respect, compassion, and pleasantness than they deserve. They are forgiven for their rudeness, shortcomings, faults, mistakes, and arrogance on the spot. They are treated with love, kindness, and patience. They do not always perceive it as the gift it is, but it is what is truly desirable in people.
and it is better to be a poor man than a liar
This is an amazingly different comment following the profound statement of the first half of this verse. It seems significantly not balanced with the grandeur of the first prescription.
The significance of both is that they point out that there are values to be lived that are not the typical goals in life. One does not expect a man to pursue tender, kind love as the goal in life because there is money, power, prestige, and sexual conquest to pursue. But to really be pursuing the next life and value in that economy, one has to pursue love and its ancillary qualities.
In the second half of this proverb the idea is floated that integrity is more important than great wealth. If you have to lose a deal because you will not lie, then lose the deal. If your unwillingness to shade the truth keeps you in poverty, then you are the better man. This type of thinking is foreign to the typical thinking that says the more material wealth I possess, the more God loves me.
There will be repeated tests in life regarding the possessions of the here and now or the eternal reward of pleasuring God and storing up treasures in heaven. When those choices come, many only pursue treasures in this life. Wealth, prestige, fame, power, sex, and possessions will be impoverished in the next life and without integrity in this one.