The righteous person hates anything false,
but the wicked person acts in shameful disgrace.
Righteousness guards the one who lives with integrity,
but wickedness overthrows the sinner.
I like to BBQ. It’s about the only way I like to cook. There’s something about fire and cooking outside. Like our forefathers would have done. In fact, I enjoy it enough that I’ve grilled for worship teams and choirs at the churches I’ve served over the years. We do it as a way to say thanks, so we give them an evening of grilled meat and sitting around our backyard talking and having a good time. The thing about these BBQ’s is, my grill isn’t big or fancy. So, when I go to cook hot dogs and hamburgers for 50 or more people on it I run out of space pretty quickly. So, every square inch of grill space is spoken for. It can get fairly intense at times. I usually lose most the hair on my hands in grease fires. I try not to burn too many of them. Try.
When you’re cooking that much meat, you’re also making a lot of smoke. Since I spend an hour or so right in front of the grill, I get thoroughly saturated in the smell of BBQ smoke. It’s not a bad smell – at first. Then after a while it goes away. Until you catch a whiff of it and remember what you smell like. But, it’s a dense enough smell that you really must shower and change your clothes to get rid of that smell – unless you want your furniture to smell like a BBQ. And while I get the worst of the smell, there are others who will smell like the smoke as well. Some who stand in proximity to the BBQ will absorb the smell, and some who stand in proximity to me.
The words used to describe the wicked person in this proverb that have been translated shameful disgrace have an interesting literal translation. They mean to smell and cause and odor. The way a shameful person acts causes a smell. It’s a saturating smell. It permeates their entire being. In fact, it can rub off on others. When this wicked person lies about others, their odor can even be transmitted to the person they are lying about. Their shameful acts carry a stench, and the only way to get rid of them is to be thoroughly cleansed.
Just as with grilling, the stink of falsehood and wickedness is something that doesn’t just affect the wicked person. It also affects the people in proximity to the wicked person and the people the wicked person touches with their wicked ways.
This should be a guard for us as those who are trying to be righteous and live the Proverbious life. As much as it depends on us, we must be careful not to allow the ways of the wicked to be transferred onto us. Of course, we must maintain contact with those who need Christ – otherwise how will they ever know. But at the same time, we must not allow our lives to start to look like/smell like theirs. We are different, we are set apart.
Instead, we must let righteousness be our guard. We must let righteousness be what protects us from doing evil things. We must allow it to protect us from associating with the wrong crowds. And we must be clothed in righteousness so that the stink of the wicked will not be our scent.