"The righteous hates falsehood, but the wicked brings shame and disgrace. Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, but sin overthrows the wicked. One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth." Proverbs 13:5 - 7 (ESV)
Did you ever have fool's gold when you were a kid? I remember panning for gems on a school field trip to a gem mine. At the end of the event, you could take home any gems that you found from the dirt and rocks that you panned. You could also buy gems and other items from the gift shop (including fool's gold!). As a kid, it looked like the real thing but it wasn’t worth anything. You could try to show it off but it did not take more than a passing glance to realize that it was not real. Pretend wealth is of no value, and neither is pretend faith.
It all comes back to contentment. Are you content in what you have? If you are, even when you are actually wealthy, you can appear poor. God is not opposed to you having wealth, but He is opposed to that wealth (or even the desire for that wealth) to control you. Solomon says we should not pretend; pretending is falsehood. Don't mistake real wealth for fool's gold.
"Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly. A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful envoy brings healing. Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored." Proverbs 13:16 - 18 (ESV)
When I was in elementary school, yoyos were the ‘must haves’. At one point, almost everyone in my fourth-grade class was bringing a yoyo to school. We would do tricks (well... attempt to do tricks) during recess and all we wanted to talk about were different brands and styles of yoyos. There was only one rule we had to follow so we could continue to bring yoyos to school. That rule? No yoyos in class. The teacher did not want to see a yoyo come out from anyone's desk before recess.
You can probably guess what happened one day. A student was caught playing with their yoyo during class. After a warning and the threat of yoyo removal, the student was once again caught with his yoyo in his hand a few minutes later. We all lost our yoyo privileges that day. One kid could not stop flaunting his new yoyo and it cost the whole class the opportunity to bring ours to class.
While this may be a trivial example, I think it connects back to what Solomon is talking about here. We are quick to flaunt possessions in front of others to make us feel superior. From yoyos to cars to clothing, we are quick to let others know what we have. A fool takes it one step farther and actually flaunts their folly. They lack good sense, and instead of hiding it, they share it with the world. Acting with knowledge and wisdom is knowing when to speak, when to listen, when to engage, and even when to walk away. You cannot win every battle; there are times when silence is the right choice. If we are not careful, we will move toward the path of the fool and begin sharing (the Bible might use a word like boasting) how good we are and how much we have.
Respond and Reflect: Are you satisfied?
"The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want." Proverbs 13:25 (ESV)
Are you satisfied? Is God enough for you? Take a few moments to consider whether you are content with what you have or jealous (wanting) of what others have. Are you attempting to make your fool's gold look real? Do you feel the need to flaunt your perceived wealth in front of others? Maybe you are going through a difficult season and need to find rest in the arms of God. The good news is that He is right here waiting for you. Stop pretending and begin being honest with God.