Proverbs 19:22

ESV What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar.
NIV What a person desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar.
NASB What is desirable in a person is his kindness, And it is better to be a poor person than a liar.
CSB What is desirable in a person is his fidelity; better to be a poor person than a liar.
NLT Loyalty makes a person attractive. It is better to be poor than dishonest.
KJV The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.

What does Proverbs 19:22 mean?

This sentiment resembles other comments which put personal integrity above other concerns (Proverbs 16:19; 19:1; 28:6). "Loyalty" is another translation of the Hebrew term which the ESV renders here as "steadfast love." This word, checed, is also presented as "lovingkindness" in other versions and verses (Exodus 15:13; Psalm 13:5). Other proverbs pointed out that true friendship endures hardship (Proverbs 17:17; 18:24). To remain loyal to a friend in trouble is risky; choosing to retain that relationship can be costly but shows great integrity. The contrasting reputation to "loyalty" or "steadfast love" would be the person who uses deceit for their own gain: a liar. To deceive to get ahead demonstrates the opposite of personal integrity, which holds to truth even when it's inconvenient.

Scripture rarely presents legitimate love in purely emotional terms: real love always inspires action. A loving man is kind to others. There is more honor in being a poor man who shows kindness and help for others than to be rich and pretend to be unable to help others.

First Corinthians 13 teaches that love is the greatest characteristic defining a life influenced by Christ. Without love, everything else, including rhetoric, the ability to understand prophecy, great faith, charity, and even martyrdom amount to nothing. Love is patient, kind, humble, enduring, and lasting. Pretending to be loving is hypocritical. According to the book of Proverbs, "a lying tongue" and "a false witness who breathes out lies" are things God explicitly hates (Proverbs 6:16–17). Love and honesty receive the Lord's favor, but unkindness and deceit receive His judgment.
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