Lowly vs Great
Proverbs 12:9 (ESV) — Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play the great man and lack bread.
Have you ever played the game Would You Rather? Students love to play it. The game involves someone asking another person, “Would you rather: lick cat fur or lick the bottom of your shoe?” I totally made up that gross scenario, but there are endless “would you rather” type questions. The person must answer with which one they would rather do. It can also be good things. “Would you rather have a beautiful house on a private beach in Hawaii or a private helicopter that would take you everywhere you want to go?”
Our passage today shows a similar scenario, but it actually tells us the best choice. We read in Proverbs 12:9, “Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play the great man and lack bread.”
Take a moment to take in this situation. The lowly man that has a servant implies no prominence or public fanfare but has a servant. The reason he has a servant is because he has great wealth. How many of you reading this have a servant?! This is a person with great wealth, but not known for it. But the second scenario is of a person known by many, and very prominent, yet lacks food to eat. Everyone perceives them to have everything, when in reality they have nothing. The writer of the proverbs says the first situation is better than the second one.
What is the lesson for us? The principle of this text is that having provisions is better than portraying you have them. Substance is better than appearances. Who cares if everyone thinks you’re great if you can’t even fill your belly when it’s hungry? If you have everything you need and more, but nobody knows about you, are you any less provided for? No.
Would you prefer an empty belly with prominence rather than a full belly with obscurity? Prominence is as empty as a belly without food. But many seek it above all things. Obscurity scares many people. They want popularity and fame. Our passage reminds us to choose provisions over prominence, a full belly over a known name.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why would some people prefer an empty belly with prominence rather than a full belly with obscurity?
- What does this passage teach about humility and pride?
- How does this passage challenge you personally?
Proverbs 12:9 (ESV) — Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play
the great man and lack bread.
"The principle of this text is
that having provisions is better
than portraying you have them.
Substance is better than appearances."
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