“There is that maketh himself rich, yet [hath] nothing: [there is] that maketh himself poor, yet [hath] great riches.”
When you read this verse the first time, what did you think it meant? The first time I read it I thought it was talking about people who were rich, but had nothing of real value. I thought it was praising those who gave away everything to have riches in heaven. But that is not what this proverb is about. The word “maketh” has to do with appearances.
“One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.” – Proverbs 13:7 ESV
This proverb warns us about pretenders who appear to be something they are not. Some live extravagantly, yet have nothing. Others try to make everyone think they are penniless, yet they are loaded.
Several years ago I had a relative who lived in one of the biggest houses in town, always drove a new car, wore the nicest clothes, and was responsible for the best gifts under the Christmas tree. Yet, when this person died, the truth came out: few things, if any, were not mortgaged, and credit card bills totaled in the hundreds of thousands. Nothing was what it seemed.
Not long ago there was a man named Walter Samaszko Jr. who was found in his Carson City, Nevada home a month after he actually died. Known as a recluse, he was the opposite of my relative. He didn’t try to impress; looking rich was the last thing Mr. Samaszko, 69, wanted to do. Yet, even though he left only $200 in the bank, hidden in his home were $7 million worth of gold bars. He could have used the gold to pay for a doctor.
This proverb is a warning to all of us who would make judgments based solely on outward appearances. It is a warning, not only because it is unwise to judge a person by his looks, but because we need to be wary of scammers and con-artists.
Some people are experts at taking advantage of others. This truth is comically portrayed in the 1988 movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, staring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. In this movie two con-artists, acting like men down on their luck, steal fortunes from compassionate, wealthy women. They “maketh” themselves poor (or rich, depending on the circumstance), yet take everything they want.
But real life is not funny. I have seen gypsies worth millions begging on the streets of eastern Europe. I have helped “needy” families with food and funds from our church’s stores, only to find out that the “needy” were only greedy. I have heard healthy men and women who refuse to work brag about “working the system” in order to obtain assistance meant for the poor and disabled.
Be warned, and don’t be like them.
- Treasure Trove of Gold Found in Dead Man’s Home (foxnews.com)
- Recluse Walter Samaszko Jr. Left $7 Million in Gold Hidden In Carson City, Nev., Home (realestate.aol.com)