The poor is disliked even by his neighbor,
but the rich has many friends.
This is an “observation” proverb, not one intended to instruct us on how we should be. It makes the unpleasant observation that a poor person must go through extra effort to prove himself to be a “good” person, while a rich person would have to make the effort to prove himself not a good friend.
We take quickly to the rich person for a couple of reasons. One, we more naturally take him to be a “quality” person. He has proven himself to be a hard worker, smart, and so on. He must be a good person to be around. Two, it is advantageous to have him as a friend because he is in position to hand out favors, be it money, good references, etc.
The poor man – well, we want to know why he is poor – drugs? laziness? There must be something about his character that keeps him in his position. If he is friendly, we must be suspicious that he wants something from us.
This is reality. The sober truth is that we reveal more about ourselves than the rich or the poor. We naturally gravitate to the rich and naturally shy away from the poor. We naturally will trust the rich and distrust the poor. It is true that we are to be discerning of both rich and poor; we are to be cautious in making ourselves indebted to others, as well as making others indebted to us. But because the deck is stacked against the poor, all the more we are to make the effort to know the poor neighbor so that we are in a position to be discerning. All the more we should take time to talk with our poor neighbor to know him as a person. We certainly will not be competing with many others for his attention.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By D. Marion Clark. © 2021 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org