Proverbs 12:9, A Sad Observation

A person of integrity is the same person in public and in private.  Yet most know that it is very difficult to be this kind of person.  In fact at times we may be the most rude and unkind to people we know the best and very kind and polite to people we do not even know at all.  This is a sad observation, though perhaps we should not stop at the observation, but instead ask ourselves why this is.  To just say 'that is the way it is' misses an important opportunity to understand the engines of sin in our soul and perhaps ask God for grace to overhaul them.

The Scripture also notes the fact in Proverbs 12:9 (WEB), "Better is he who is little known, and has a servant, than he who honors himself, and lacks bread."

Also Proverbs 13:7 (WEB), "There are some who pretend to be rich, yet have nothing. There are some who pretend to be poor, yet have great wealth."

In the first verse the commended one doesn't seem to care about the esteem of the masses, but manages his own household well enough to have a servant.  However, the one contrasted is very concerned to honor himself perhaps for popularity, but his own household has no food.  Similarly in the second verse one man pretends to be rich, apparently to impress others, while another man doesn't care to be popular through his wealth, but instead keeps it a secret for himself and his family.  Why is this?

We might use the expression to 'put on airs' or 'give oneself airs' when someone acts better than one really is and pretends to be good or to be superior.  But again why would we put out the energy and effort to please the crowd, yet neglect our own household?  For example when I write or speak in front of a group I put a lot of effort into preparing.  I prepare in advance thinking about the things I want to say and how to say them.  I do my best to calculate my humor and the responses because I want to 'look good' for my audience.  But do I put the same effort into conversation with my wife and family?  I remember when courting my wife my mind raced to prepare for my time with her.  However, now 25 years later, coming home from work is too often just... regular.  Why is this?  Or what about you?  How do you prepare for your public, for your fan club?  How do you converse, dress, operate?  Does your public audience get the same treatment as your private audience?  If you are like me, too often I treat the superficial public better than my close friends and family.

Here are a few reflections as to why this might be? 

1.  Intimacy requires openness about our weaknesses, but pleasing a crowd is easier.
2.  The praise of crowds feed our ego, but good friends should shrink our ego.
3.  Intimacy requires heart level effort, while the heart can be avoided in a crowd.
4.  Bitterness erodes relationships, but the crowd promises friendship, albeit superficial.
5.  Intimacy surrenders control, but it is easier to fool a crowd and stay in control.

Wouldn't it be better to thrill our private audiences than to sell ourselves to the crowd for a cheap thrill?