The righteousness of the blameless will make straight their way,
but the wicked person will fall by his own wickedness.
The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
but the faithless will be captured by their own desires.
We are a family of gardeners. My Grandpa always had a big garden, growing up we always had a garden. In fact, when I was in middle school, I started growing my own garden. It started with a corner of the family garden where I could plant whatever I wanted (including some black walnut trees), moved on to a small section in the back of our yard and then I dug up a huge garden in the spot where we used to play baseball.
I remember one year, while I was watching my grandpa till up his garden with their tractor. From time to time you’d hear a bug thud go through the tiller, and see a big rock come out the back. It wasn’t desirable, but there wasn’t a whole lot you could do. You’d pick up the rock and get it out of the garden, but there were always more. Well, then there was a thud that had a different sound. It didn’t sound the same as the rock, and didn’t go away. So, Grandpa had to get off the tractor and inspect the situation. It was a mole trap he had set the previous year and had forgotten about. Luckily, one he got it out of the tiller, everything was fine – other than having gotten caught in his own trap.
The same is true for the faithless, wicked fools. They set their own traps that they too will eventually be caught in. Because of their godless ways, lack of moral judgement and lack of a common path to walk, they are constantly setting traps for themselves. That they forget about over time, but eventually come back to catch them.
When you are living by God’s word and following God’s ways, you have a moral compass. You have something that guides you and keeps you walking in the right way. You have a guide to keep you from going down the wrong path. You have a guide to keep you from making wrong decisions. You have a guide to keep you from wrong relationships and bad business practices.
When you aren’t living the Proverbious life, you don’t have a moral compass. There is nothing to guide you. There is nothing to keep you from walking in circles. And when you walk in circles, you’re eventually going to come back on a trap you set for yourself years ago.
So, walk with the wise and you won’t find yourself in a trap you made for yourself in the past.
Wealth does not profit in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from mortal danger.
I’ve heard John Maxwell say that people spend the first half of their life spending their health to get wealth, then they spend the rest of their lives spending their wealth to regain their health. That was an idea that stuck with me. It really go me thinking about how I am spending my health right now. Of course, I’m not necessarily doing a great job at how I spend it…
Today’s proverb is along a similar thought. When trouble comes, when we have to endure God’s divine discipline, all the money in the world will save us from it. We could store up treasures in countries all around the world, and if we haven’t learned to live rightly, it will do us not good. God is more concerned with how we live than how much money we have. God would rather us have little in terms of worldly riches, but have wealth by his terms. He knows that if we don’t think correctly, we won’t know how to handle everything that comes with money.
But, when you are righteous, when you are living the Proverbious life, you can find deliverance from death. Of course we all must die. But we don’t have to suffer the pain of eternal death. For, in Christ, we find the opposite – eternal life.
So, it would be wise of us all to store up for ourselves treasures of righteousness, wisdom and understanding. This is the protection we need. We could spend all our earthly wealth to build walls of protection around us, and still be vulnerable to attack. We may be able to hold off the attacks of people who want to get at our riches, but we can’t hold off the attack of sickness and death. We may keep the world out, but we can’t keep God out. If God wants to teach us something, he will accomplish that task no matter what our defenses are.
The Lord abhors dishonest scales,
but an accurate weight is his delight.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.
The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the crookedness of the unfaithful destroys them.
Are you surprised by people who call themselves Christians, but practice business in very shady ways during the week? I know I have. I have come across people who will go to church on Sunday and listen to the sermon, talk the talk with people after church but then wake up on Monday and begin a completely separate life.
God doesn’t want us to do business in shady ways. He wants us to be above reproach in all matters, which includes our business practices. God delights in business being handled correctly, and he despises people who use business to take advantage of others.
Basically, God wants us to be people of integrity. Someone who has integrity, is someone who lives by a code of conduct in all their life. When you have integrity, you have something that guides you in the way you live. A man of integrity is also a man of humility – that’s part of the code.
It’s kind of like a secret handshake. If you know someone is humble, you know the chances of them being trustworthy are good. If they are proud and arrogant and full of themselves, you can probably guess that they aren’t going to be trustworthy. When someone is proud and think of themselves first, well – they think of themselves first. And when it comes to business, someone who is thinking only of themselves will only be looking at what they can get out of the deal. When you encounter someone in any facet of your life who is proud, you must watch yourself.
However, when you are humble you get wisdom. When you are proud, you get disgrace. But, when you are humble, you gain wisdom. When you are humble you are able to view the world as it is, not only as it affects you.
The thing about wisdom is it leads to integrity. In fact, you might even say they are almost the same thing. It would be hard to have one without the other. When you have wisdom and integrity you also have humility. When you have it, you know it when you see it. That’s the secret handshake.
The speech of the righteous bears the fruit of wisdom,
but the one who speaks perversion will be destroyed.
The lips of the righteous know what is pleasing,
but the speech of the wicked is perverse.
If you’ve ever tried to grow apples, you know that it’s not as easy as simply planting an apple tree. I think many people hope that they can just buy and apple tree, dig a hole, put the tree in it and have apples in the fall. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
We planted some apple trees a couple of years ago, and this past year they had a couple apples. That’s about all we’ve gotten from them so far. I need to get out and prune them so we have a shot at getting a few more apples this fall. But that’s the thing, to get apples, you have to prune the tree.
This is the same for us as we learn the ways of wisdom. We have to prune out the parts of our life that are keeping us from producing fruit. We learn what to do and what not to do. We learn what to think and what not to think. We learn what to say and what not to say.
The more we prune out, the more room wisdom will have to grow. It’s not even just in the sense of space, though that’s a part of it. If your life is crowded with too many things, there will not be enough room for wisdom and the ways of the Lord to take hold.
When you prune a tree, you’re cutting off the branches in hopes that the roots will send more nutrients to the fruit producing parts of the tree. That’s exactly what we want in our lives as well. We want to cut the parts of our life out that aren’t going to produce any fruit so that our strength and energy can be feeding the parts of our lives that will produce fruit.
Spend some time pruning the wicked and perverse ways out of your life and your speech. When you do so you will be setting yourself up to produce fruit that will last.
The way of the Lord is like a stronghold for the upright,
but it is destruction to evildoers.
The righteous will never be moved,
but the wicked will not inhabit the land.
While I was in the Indiana Wesleyan University Chorale, we sang the Hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” It was a powerful arrangement of a powerful song. I love the words:
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
I especially love the part about abiding in our own strength. Even in our best efforts, our strength is nothing. If the right Man isn’t on our side, Christ himself, we would not win the battle.
It fits so well with today’s Proverb. The way of the Lord is a stronghold, a fortress for the upright – but it is destruction for the wicked. When the wicked are faced with the ways of the Lord they will be destroyed. The righteous will not have to retreat in battle, and the wicked will not overtake the righteous. It may seem at times that we are losing ground, but in the grand scheme of things, the righteous will always win.
Take comfort in this hymn. It is rich in truth from God’s word.
Fearing the Lord prolongs life,
but the life span of the wicked will be shortened.
The hope of the righteous is joy,
but the expectation of the wicked will remain unfulfilled.
Unresolved Endings. That’s a feeling that can drive some people absolutely crazy. The feeling keeps them up at night, controls their thoughts throughout the day and also controls their whole life.
This seems to have become the mode of operation for hollywood. It seems that they’ve decided that we no longer need movies that end. We need movies that leave us feeling let down. That’s the way life is, so why shouldn’t we experience the same thing in a movie. Of course, they probably have research to support their decisions, but I think it’s one of the things that has been detrimental to their success. People don’t want to pay 20-40 bucks to be disappointed.
I get the idea that the end game for the wicked is going to be this unresolved feeling. They are going to get to the end of their life expecting to find something there, expecting to feel like they have accomplished something great. And yet, they will arrive at their old age and realize that they are still unfulfilled.
However, the righteous do have something to hope for. Joy. When you fear the Lord, you have a hope that is outside yourself. When you don’t, your hope rests solely on you. That means if you never find complete and utter fulfillment within the context of your own existence, you have no other place to look for that hope. However, if your hope is in the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth, then you have a hope that is beyond this world.
Not only to the righteous have a longer life, but they also have a joy to hope for beyond this life. The life span of the wicked is short, and what they have to look for beyond this life is more looking but never finding. More asking but never knowing. More wandering but never arriving.
Do you have hope? If so, I imagine it’s because you fear the Lord. If you don’t have hope, I’d suggest looking to see the set up of the universe you find yourself in. If everything revolves around you, you’re not going to have hope. If everything revolves around the Lord, you will have hope. Take a minute to stop and see where things are, and know how you need to adjust your orbit!