Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #28  How Low Can We Go?

June 2014 Your 50 Favorite Proverbs | Liz Curtis Higgs

Good thing you picked our 50 Favorite Proverbs, beloved. I would have chosen all the joyful verses, the upbeat ones, the encouraging bits. Happy, happy, happy.

But you wisely know we learn more intellectually—and grow faster spiritually—when our thinking is challenged and our actions are weighed.

Prepare to get unsettled, as we unpack a truth that delivers a solid punch.

Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed
    than to share plunder with the proud. Proverbs 16:19

"Better to be lowly in spirit..." Proverbs 16:19

Better to be lowly in spirit…

This isn’t about embracing depression or lying down in the dirt. God is saying we are “better off” (CEV) if we “live humbly” (NLT).

So, should we get rid of all our stuff? That’s what Jesus encouraged the rich young ruler to do: “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Mark 10:21).

No wonder “the man’s face fell” and “he went away sad” (Mark 10:22). His possessions defined him, and so they confined him.

I wish I didn’t get this, but I get this. With my words—both spoken and written—I affirm absolutely that our eternal life in heaven matters far more than our present life on earth. But sitting here in my renovated farmhouse, filled with a lifetime of memories, the thought of selling everything makes me…well, sad.

Yet when I look in the faces of those in need, they make me even sadder.

"...along with the oppressed... " Proverbs 16:19

along with the oppressed…

Jesus told his followers, “You will always have the poor among you” (John 12:8). Yes, Lord. We still do.

Global Issues reports that 22,000 children die every day due to poverty. Almost half the world—over three billion people—live on less than $2.50 a day. And nearly one billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.

We are “living among the poor” (ERV), yet seldom see them. We are surrounded by the “needy” (CEB), yet do little to relieve “those who suffer” (EXB).

Maybe you’re already doing and giving in a big way, storing up your treasure in heaven. Well done, my friend. For the rest of us who need a Holy Spirit nudge to do more for others, I asked my (in)courage sisters how they help “those who are beaten down” (NIRV), how they reach out to “the afflicted” (NET).

They quickly offered this global list of a dozen great causes, meant to get us all thinking, giving, and doing in Jesus’ name:

Jessica Turner | World Vision
Aliza Latta | Hashtag Hope
Anna Rendell | International Justice Mission
Kristen Welch | Mercy House Kenya
Alia Joy | Kijabe Hospital
Robin Dance | Freeset Global
Ann Voskamp | Compassion International
Deidra Riggs | Why We Can’t Wait
Jennifer Dukes Lee | ViBella Jewelry
Mary Carver | Global Orphan Project
Liz Curtis Higgs | Salvation Army
Karina Allen | Trafficking Hope

If you clicked on some of the above and prayed for God’s leading, you’re on the right track. That Proverbs 31 woman we admire? She “opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy” (Proverbs 31:20). Clearly, God wants us to do the same: to be willing to have less, so others can have more.

But Father God, you know the truth. I love having more.

"...than to share plunder with the proud." Proverbs 16:19

…than to share plunder with the proud.

Oh man. I never thought of shopping bags holding plunder, let alone “loot” (GNT) or “stolen goods” (GW). But the truth is, even if my budget allows, even if I pay cash instead of credit, by God’s measure, indulgent shopping is still plunder—“the dishonest acquisition of property”—if I’m clothing myself instead of someone who’s dressed in rags.

Sisters, I am in trouble. I believe many of us are.

It’s not just “arrogant people” (GW) who love acquiring stuff, not just the “rich and famous” (MSG). Lots of us engage in shopping therapy with friends. Lots of us spend far more than we give.

Though God’s Word cautions us, “Better poor and humble than proud and rich” (TLB), our culture teaches us the complete opposite: “Better proud and rich than poor and humble.”

Help, Lord.

He can help. And he will help.

By the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit, he can teach us to say no to that old way of thinking, and say yes to sharing our time, our money, our energy, our prayers, and our hearts with those in need.

What does that look like at the Higgs house?

When a favorite catalog arrives in my mailbox, I’m asking the Lord to help me toss it in the trash and write a check to a worthy cause instead. When a free Saturday appears on my schedule, I’m begging the Lord to show me a more charitable place to invest those hours than curled up on the couch watching Netflix. When it’s time to downsize, I’m asking God for the courage to buy small and give big.

I know, I know: these are baby steps, not huge leaps.
See, I just want to start. Not someday. Right now.

Remember I said my favorite verses are the joyful ones? I believe with all my heart, if we put this proverb into action, the joy of the Lord is a guarantee: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).

Proverbs 16:19

Now it’s your turn

Kindly click Post a Comment below and respond to either one:

  • If this devotion has convicted you to do more for those in need,
    how do you plan to get started?
  • If you are already doing and giving in a sacrificial way,
    what has the Lord taught you in the process?

Thanks for taking a moment to share your thoughts with us. Your Printable of Proverbs 16:19 awaits you. And you’ll find our colorful countdown—#50 to this week’s #28—on Pinterest.

I know this subject cuts close to the bone for many of us. Trust the Spirit’s leading. He will always guide you in the right direction!

Your sister, Liz
@LizCurtisHiggs #50Proverbs

Your sister, Liz Curtis Higgs BibleGatewayBloggerGrid Your 50 Favorite Proverbs | Liz Curtis Higgs

Love being part of (in)courage! I am honored to write for P31 Ministries

41 Responses to Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #28  How Low Can We Go?

  1. Dalyn June 30, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    Ouch. I feel sick and convicted. I love to help. I love to be generous. My husband and I give and of ourselves- we have adopted other kids after our bio kids were older and started over. It’s hard at this age! It’s exhausting! I feel sorry for myself sometimes when my husband and I can’t have a weekend away or even a night out. My girlfriends are doing lunch and persuing their interests now their kids are grown. So I keep buying stuff. To make me feel better about not enough sleep or recreation, I tell myself I deserve it. I’ve been so wrong! I pray The Lord will help me to feel cared for by Him so I can keep caring for others. I have become selfish and my house is cluttered with too much stuff. We are the only nation that eats itself to death and has to buy or rent additional storage for our stuff! We’re like the foolish farmer that built bigger barns for himself to hold the excess instead of being rich toward God. Ouch again!!
    Thank you for the wake up call Liz

    • Liz Curtis Higgs June 30, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

      Right there with you, Dalyn. Ouch. It wasn’t an easy post to write, with God gently prodding me with every sentence, “So, how about YOU, Liz?” Here’s my plan: pray and obey. He knows our weaknesses, and stands ready to strengthen us. Let’s move forward together, dear sister.

  2. Cheryl June 30, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Jefferson Street Women’s Day Shelter needs women to help from 1-3pm Mon-Fri. Homeless women can get mail, shower, do laundry, eat and receive encouragement. But we need more helping hands and listening ears. If you have two hours a week or two hours a month come join us if you feel God tapping your heart, contact our Volunteer Coordinator.

  3. Barb Naperalsky June 30, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Thank you for today’s blog on “giving” , “serving”. I was moved to “Do Something”, thanks to Matthew West’s new song! I will be fundraising and running the Missoula Half Marathon for Team World Vision, raising money for clean, running water for Africa! I’m training hard and in two weeks, will be running 13.1 miles. I am attempting to raise $100 for every mile I run and I am halfway there! We are all blessed to have hot water to bathe in, cold water for drinking! I will be envisioning those children in Africa that must walk five miles, three times a day to get dirty water from a watering hole as I run! Support me as I run! Go to Team World Vision, Donate to Barb Naperalsky . You can save a life! God Bless!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs June 30, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

      God bless you, Barb. A great organization and a great cause!

  4. Barb June 30, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    I was recently going through some of our grown children’s toys and decided to try to sell some of them, seeing that they could bring in a good price as collectibles. For all the potential though, I had no success, only discouragement, and one day it occurred to me that we knew a family with several children, including 3 Down’s Syndrome boys, who might like the (mostly) boy toys I had. I contacted their mom, and they were thrilled to receive them. She sent me photos of the boys joyfully digging into the biggest box. The money would have been nice, but the sharing–and their joy–was nicer…..

    • Liz Curtis Higgs June 30, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

      I love how God works, Barb. Clearly this was his plan all along! And good for you, sharing with those sweet boys who loved those toys. Joy beats cash ANY DAY!

  5. Kathleen June 30, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    I am a single mom and have struggled raising my son on my own since his dad and I divorced when my son was two. We know first hand hard times but even in those times, I taught my son that there were others worse off than us. A year ago we saw a man standing on the corner begging. My son said, give him our change and so we did. Over this past year, we have seen this man in different areas of our community. One rainy day, my son saw him crossing the Walmart parking lot. He asked me to drive over to him so he could give him our umbrella. We did. My son got out of the car before I could say anything walked up and shook the man’s hand and introduced himself. Then man started to cry. I pulled up close in the car and told the man to open the umbrella and for my son to get in the car. I introduced myself and he told us his name was David. He told us that no one hand extended a hand to him or even asked his name for so long. David said it was wonderful feeling like a “normal” person again. Over the year, we found out more about David and he even showed us his tent home next door to the police station. We went to the police and they always walk with us to drop things off for David. Most if the time he had been drinking and did not remember us coming. One day my son asked David if we could wash his clothes. He was as shocked as I was. He gathered up his few things, put them in a plastic grocery bag and we went to the laundry mat. My son said he would wash the clothes and pay for the machines to wash and dry from his own money. We brought the clothes back and David again cried because he had not had really clean clothes in a long time. At Christmas we wrapped gifts and delivered them along with the police as they have begun to help since seeing the kindness my son had shown a complete stranger.

    God is so good, we have shared his goodness with David and he says he is a believer. When you get down and think you have it so bad, just remember there are sadly people in worse circumstances than you. In giving of yourself or what you have it sure does run those “blues” away.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs June 30, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

      Kathleen, your story brings tears to my eyes. Yes, yes. Those kind of practical, one-on-one acts of service are so pleasing to the Lord. And your sweet son! When I think of what God is teaching him (and teaching us, through him), I stand in awe. Thank you, Lord, for this shining example of love in action. Please be with David and assure him of your mercy. And bless Kathleen, for taking time to share her story with all of us. It’s just…wow.

  6. Marte June 30, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    My friend, Liz, shared an acrostic she got from a BH&G Storage magazine, using word S_I_M_P_L_E_
    SORT like items
    ID what you keep
    MAKE a place for it
    PUT in bins
    ESTABLISH a routine to keep order

    So helpful! as I work to whittle our piles

    • Liz Curtis Higgs June 30, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

      Very organized, Marte! :>)

      To take it one step further in the direction we’re going this week, finding ways to help those in need, mind if I make your acrostic SO SIMPLE, with the S_O_ meaning…
      SO I can SHARE my

      Hope you like it. Thanks for the tip!

  7. Susan Gruener June 30, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

    I give out of my ‘abundance’, but I need to give ‘sacrificially’… I do realize it’s all about our ‘heart’. I am in the process of finding two children God would have me bless in Compassion International. I feel sad that I didn’t do this 20 years ago…
    Thank you Liz for expounding on His Word…and reminding us once again that God wants us to help those in need. That can be just about anywhere…the man on the street, the neighbor who lost their job, the nearby mission, the children halfway around the world that need food and an education…
    Following Him…

    • Liz Curtis Higgs June 30, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

      So proud of you, Susan, for seeking two children to sponsor through Compassion International…a WONDERFUL organization. My advice? Focus on what you can do in the present, and leave past regrets in the Lord’s hands. He knows your heart, and is preparing two children to find a home there!

  8. Sam L June 30, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    First time poster, here. This verse has been popping up over the last few weeks for me. Malachi 3:8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings.
    I think the Lord is trying to tell me something between that and your post. Ouch. Must go pray now.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs July 2, 2014 at 9:50 am #

      Delighted to have you join our conversation, Sam. The Lord has been talking to me as well, through several verses. As you say, “Ouch.” Those statistics, those undeniable facts, have also driven me to my knees. Help us be generous, Lord. Sacrificially so.

  9. Blanche Hake June 30, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    This proverb really hits home. As Americans, we have no idea about the poverty that exists in our world. One does not need to leave our country to find it even though it may be well hidden. I, through my church, deal with the homeless and those who have addictions of one kind or another. When we see them as individuals such as David, and call them by name, they begin to realize that God does love them.

    For my students who sometimes feel lost, it’s necessary for them to feel good about themselves before learning can take place. We can give generously with our finances, but we also need to give our time and service. All of these missions are great and worthy of our time, but like David and the young son, it takes the personal touch to show our love and acceptance.

    This Proverb says it all!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs July 2, 2014 at 9:53 am #

      I felt the same way, Blanche, reading the story of David’s generosity. That’s the REAL DEAL. Hands on, one-on-one giving. It doesn’t have to be huge. It just has to be SOMETHING. Help us follow David’s example, Lord!

  10. Billie Conrad June 30, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    I was glad to see Compassion International as one of your suggested opportunities. Sometimes it takes a child…my 14 year old, while at the Women of Joy Conference in Louisville this spring, became very moved by that ministry and “adopted a child” – well actially our family is doing this together – but it is her ministry. We got our first letter from our child and also from her pastor recently. My Hannah is faithful to pray for her child EVERY night.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs July 2, 2014 at 9:57 am #

      LOVE hearing this, Billie. Compassion International is fantastic, and to think of a teenager stepping up to help is truly heartwarming. And convicting. Please tell Hannah “Well done!”

  11. Pam Waters June 30, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

    The Lord has been speaking to me gently and consistently for a month. I was not responding. Then He woke me up. He is so gracious and patient with us. I understood and obeyed and gave to all things I had been putting off plus one, 25 Project. I still have one more that had been on my heart. Buckner’s Shoes for these children. Praying God will not let up and continue to allow us to be able to give to others in need. To give is better than to receive. Thanks Liz.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs July 2, 2014 at 9:59 am #

      He IS patient with us, Pam, and I’m grateful for it. God bless you for giving in Jesus’ name.

  12. jaime June 30, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

    Last summer my husband worked part time for our landlord in addition to his fulltime job. Every penny he made purchased shoes for the homeless. We went to Walmart and bought different sizes and styles for men and women. It brought us incredible joy to do this for strangers. At the time I didn’t realize it but it had an impact on my little boy as well. A few months ago, a family moved in across the street. They have six children and are only renting until their house is rebuilt. They had a fire and the kids lost all their toys, clothes, everything. No one was hurt but its still devastating. My not quite five year old asked if we could give some of his stuff to that family. We went through all his stuff and he chose a lot to give away. Those kids were tickled when we showed up with three garbage bags of stuffed animals, thomas train layouts, books, videos, etc. My son was happy too. He made his friends smile.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs July 2, 2014 at 10:01 am #

      Beautiful story, Jaime. And again, it’s a child showing adults how it’s done. We’re listening, Lord. We’re learning. “…and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).

  13. Kasey July 1, 2014 at 9:47 am #

    Thank you for the challenge. I just turned 40 and started getting a magazine in the mail (unsolicited) and turned to the back page ( I always read them back to front) and the article was about the journey of one of their writers making the journey to Colorado to buy pot for the first time. It was pathetic. I threw it in the trash and could have cried because that is what passes for a challenge in today’s culture. How I wish your article had been on that page instead. P.s. Calling them today to take my name off of their list.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs July 2, 2014 at 10:07 am #

      Good for you, Kasey, lodging a complaint and taking your name off their list, not simply throwing the magazine away. Because I was once in the same place as that writer, I’m compelled to pray for him, because “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). That writer is literally in the dark. Set him free, Lord, as only you can.

  14. Jere July 1, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    Wow, Liz! You got me on this one today! Or is that God saying its time for me to stop indulging in my shopping? I think so! After reading those statistics, I am ashamed & repentent. I thank God for using you to bonk me on the head today! Love ya! Jere

    • Liz Curtis Higgs July 2, 2014 at 10:09 am #

      Actually, the Lord got us both on this one, Jere. As I wrote this post, the Holy Spirit was speaking very pointedly to me. My own bonk-on-the-head experience!

  15. Robin Totten July 1, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    WOW! This really spoke to me! I work at Jesus House – a homeless shelter in OKC. I would like to tell myself I am doing my part, but I know I can do more. Thank you for this word! BTW, I have been sharing some of your information (with previous permission from you) from your online Bible Studies at a women’s class I teach here. They have loved it! Thank you soo much!!!

  16. Caroline July 1, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    I do find your post very convicting, Liz. And not in a bad way, where I am grumbling and simmering with anger. It convinces me that I’ve got to take the hobby I love and help others. I LOVE to read and I have a LOT of books. For a long time I have wanted to have a drive to raise enough money to have a free book fair for needy kids. Or to be able to give baby board books to our new moms at the crisis pregnancy center. Thank you for your gentle prodding.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs July 2, 2014 at 10:12 am #

      How I love what God is showing you, Caroline. A unique and personal way to serve. Wonderful!

  17. Laura July 2, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    Liz, thank you for being the Holy Spirit’s faithful messenger to us, no matter how difficult the message you are tasked to give. My mother is a retired missionary from Kentucky Mountain Mission, based in Beattyville, KY. Many of her supporters stopped their monthly giving to help her when she retired from active service, but my hubby and I have continued to support her. Now our daughter and son-in-law are preparing to be missionaries in South Korea under the mission Word of Life International. We have begun to support them monthly also. It is a blessing to help people who have given their lives to serve the Lord full-time! A ministry that is also close to my heart is VOM–Voice of the Martyrs. They assist persecuted believers all over the world. Most of these dear people are extremely poor, besides being in much danger because of their faith.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs July 2, 2014 at 10:16 am #

      Wonderful to see the next generation stepping up to serve, Laura. And yes, The Voice of the Martyrs is a great organization. Very eye-opening, especially for those of us who have never suffered in any measurable way for our faith.

  18. Judith Canterbury July 2, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    I have been involved with a faith-based women and children’s shelter/food and clothing community outreach ministry funded by two thrift stores since 2007. I started as a volunteer in one of the stores and loved it. I then was asked to come on staff as administrative assistant. I was moved by dealing with the people and being able to help as a volunteer, but not until I was answering the phones and dealing with situations first-hand did I truly realize how a lost and dying world and a country plagued with sin and self needs Christians to be the face, hands, and feet of Christ. I had to resign my position a year ago due to health problems, but I still try to stay involved as a volunteer. We older gals have the time to help with things like ministry newsletters and sorting and displaying items for ministry thrift stores. Things aren’t always rosy as a volunteer, but I must say that blessings abound. I’ve gotten to encourage others and share what the Lord has done for me in forgiving my sins and being a loving Father. Gotta add this: One day I had a homeless man call in needing ostomy supplies. After exhausting my resource list of phone numbers for emergency medical supplies, I happened to remember a friend who had just had her surgery for an ostomy reversal. By 4:00 that evening, I was witness to seeing that gentleman receive over $400 worth of supplies that she didn’t need anymore. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, and we did some rejoicing! I’m feeling the need for my own blog on this one, Liz! People are what this life is all about!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs July 2, 2014 at 10:19 am #

      YES, Judith. Serving and loving and ministering to and caring for people in Jesus’ Name is DEFINITELY our calling. It’s what gives life meaning, and makes sacrifice so worthwhile. Proud of you for continuing to find ways to serve others. Love your story about the medical supplies. How like God to supply EXACTLY what is needed. Amazing. Always.

  19. Denise Sherman July 2, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    The Lord began working on me when I read David Platt’s book Radical. One way the Lord has dealt with me, is to buy less (e.g. two scarves instead of 4 scarves) and give the extra money where it’s really needed. Some other times, if I wanted something rather expensive like a new cell phone, then I’m to save twice the amount of money and then I can buy my item and the same amount I spent, I give to the needy. There are other ways the Lord has put on my heart, but those were a couple that I began with. My husband and I don’t buy each other Christmas gifts either–we give to very needy children across the globe. It never hurts to be reminded of how much I have, and I could always give more.
    God gives to us so we can be used by Him to give to others!
    Thanks for the reminder Liz. 🙂

    • Liz Curtis Higgs July 2, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      Denise, I LOVE your very practical, very meaningful approach to giving. I especially like the idea of blessing others at Christmas, instead of giving gifts to each other. Haven’t talked my family into that yet, but I’m working on it!

      As for this comment, I think it needs to be a DaySpring wall hanging:
      “God gives to us so we can be used by Him to give to others!”

      Yes, sister. YES.

  20. Elisabeth Allen July 3, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    I actually just finished paying for my degree (with funds that the Lord graciously and generously provided at the perfect time, I hasten to add, being able to study without debt is a blessing I don’t deserve but greatly value) and I’m excited about the new freedom I have in my budget. I want to give more, maybe through sponsoring a child with Compassion, but it’s so easy to justify a selfish attitude. Friends tend to think that I don’t struggle with this, because although I like pretty clothes and shoes, I hate shopping! My struggle, however, is with books and music and “niceties” and I can justify spending too much on myself in these areas. “I’m asking God for the courage to buy small and give big.” Amen.

  21. Becky (Rebecca) Frith July 3, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    Ouch! Was also my comment upon reading this blog. After losing so much to the tornado in May 2013, we pretty much started over with essentials….just admittedly nicer essentials. The Lord laid Village Missions on our hearts. My brother has been a pastor in rural churches across America for more than 40 years. Village Missions supports couples who are willing to serve in areas where there are churches who can not pay for pastors. Without this support these small rural churches die. So now we do support them. I was also surprised to learn that I could help them every time I purchase anything from They have a program where you can help designate a charity and a portion of the purchase price goes to that charity. This way I don’t feel so guilty about my book purchases! Always so right on Liz. Thank you

  22. Regina July 11, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

    “Travel light.” This is an idea planted into my heart years ago by a very wise birthday card. Ever since then, that idea has taken root and grown strong. To me, traveling light isn’t just about letting go of worry and regret. It’s also grown to be about being intentional about the things I decide to acquire and keep. Even more, it’s about not filling my time or my budget to capacity. Why? To be able to be generous. It’s been a learning journey, but in the process the thing I’ve learned the most is this (and it’s going to sound cliche): I can’t out-give God. Mostly because as I pour out, he pours right back in. Not always in the same way (it’s not like he’s running a divine reimbursement service), but always in a way that provides a blessing.

    It helps that I belong to a church family that values giving. My senior pastor often mentions the verse that talks about leaving the edges of fields for the needy (Leviticus 19:9-10). Purposefully setting aside a part of my proverbial field has been life-changing. Because what begins as a sacrifice then becomes a budget.

    The other big lesson I’ve learned: I don’t need to out-give God (or anybody else). Once I started seeing the needs of the world, I felt like I started seeing them all. And there’s a lot. How in the world could my little bit make any sort of real difference? But God has shown me time and time again that it’s not about an amount, it’s about my heart. Jesus famously took a sack lunch and fed a multitude. God still does that today. He doesn’t want me to give my whole field, but he does want me to be a good steward and to be obedient with my edges.

    Being lowly, living humbly…traveling light. So I can give him all my edges, and in his hands, those edges can change the world.