Poverty Comes to Those Who Sell Their Integrity

To show partiality is not good, but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong. A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him (Prov. 28:21-22).

The background of v. 22 is v. 21. The setting is a court of law. The man wants to make quick money by taking a bribe. That is the picture here in v. 21. The bribe is compared to a piece of bread. For a piece of bread, the bribe-taker will do wrong. In other words, for a piece of bread, he will show partiality. For some quick and easy money, he will sell the truth. For money, he will sell his integrity. For money, he will give a false witness in court.

Now in v. 22, this bribe-taker is called, a “stingy man.” In the Hebrew, it literally reads, “a man with an evil eye.” The word, “evil” (Heb. ra’a), is used of the ungodly thoughts and actions of men (cf. Num 14:27, 35; Jer 8:3; Ezek 38:10). In the OT, the eye measures the inner thoughts of men. (TWOT) An “evil eye” refers to evil intentions resulting to evil actions.

Thus, a man with an evil eye is one doing evil acts out of evil intents. The evil intent is greed (cf. Prov. 28:20, 25). The evil act is to get rich quick by selling one’s integrity. But the greedy one who takes a bribe, the stingy man, the man with an evil eye, the man who wants to get rich by selling his integrity—will only become poor.

There is an irony here. The one who sells his honesty to get rich will become poor. Anyone who sells his integrity for prosperity ends up in poverty.

Are you tempted to sell your honesty for money? Are you tempted to give up doing right to make money? If you will sell your uprightness for a piece of bread, then you will lose that bread. You will become poor.

Avoid poverty by maintaining your integrity. Do what is right. Do not sell your integrity for a piece of bread.


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