Category Archives: The Righteous

Seeing Your Map

Proverbs 14:8

The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.”

Asking Directions

One of the most common jokes in the Western Culture (primarily North America and Europe) is that men are not good at asking directions. There is much truth in this.

Men feel sufficient in their ability to find their way around if they have a map … and many time they may even forgo the map! Sometimes, it is because of their pride that they can not admit to not understanding the map.

In other words, they often end up even more lost as they lie about what they do not actually know.

And men are not alone. I have known several women just as guilty of this as many men.

Only after properly consulting the map or asking for directions can someone who is lost find their destination.

Your map

The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way …

A wise person would heed the call of the gospel message: we are all guilty of sin; we all think we are on our way to happiness (or at least that it can not get much worse than this life), but we are on our way to eternal sorrow and destruction; and God stepped down in the Person Jesus of Nazareth to save us from our sin by dying on the cross and raising back to life three days later.

A wise person would realize he or she is lost and accept the offer of directions. The map of our lives is entirely in God’s hands, but we choose our path.

The foolish person will never admit to being lost and will settle on the lie that, if there is a map, we are in complete control of our own destiny and make our own map. This person settles on the lie that we can be our own gods, or that there is no God, or that god is whatever we make of it.

We can either understand our way or live in the lie, deceiving ourselves to our doom.

Are you wise or foolish?

Heavenly Father, break through our lies and deceit. Help us to see the truth of who You are and who we are. Help us overcome our folly and our sin and understand our need for You, that You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.


Two Pursuers

Proverbs 13:21

21 Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.

Yesterday, Jason discussed how bad company will make us bad ourselves.

To go a step further, when we live a life of sin, whatever that may look like, we tend to gather like-minded people around us, reinforcing our sinful behaviors. Eventually, we have to deal with our sin.

If all we have around us is our sin and those who promote it, what should we expect? That everything will be alright? That we will never have problems?

This verse tells us that, in fact, the consequences of our sin track us down. The Apostle Peter told us in 1 Peter 5:8 that the Devil is actually seeking us out to destroy us!

Whatever vice or sin we have in our life is a beacon for Satan, calling him after us to pursue us and drag us deeper to our death. Things will only get worse the longer we live in our sin. Eventually, it leads to not only a literal death but eternal destruction.

The Other Pursuer

Those who live a life of righteousness, a life given to God, can expect a different outcome.

While a righteous person may interact with the more sinful, they are not tainted by that sin. Instead, they more closely associate with those who promote righteousness, or at the very least keep God central in their lives.

An interesting thing happens when we pursue God:

7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
James 4:7-8

Do you see it?

Not only does God actively pursue those who pursue Him, but the Devil will actually run away!

We must remember, however, that he only runs away because he has been close. The more we walk with God, the more the Devil will want to break us apart.

The great news is that as we pursue God, we have God defending us.

Ultimately, we are repaid with eternal life.

Precious Savior, thank You for rescuing us from our sin and the grip of the Devil. Help us see You pursuing us. Give us the faith to pursue You. Give us the strength to resist the Devil when he comes after us, for by Your power he will flee!


Rejoicing Light

Proverbs 13:9

“The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.” 

What a Storm!

Hurricane Sandy (AP Photo/Weather Underground)

“Superstorm” Sandy was a monster storm that stretched over the entire eastern coast of North America, bringing hurricane winds, torrential rain, 13 ft. storm surges, and even two feet of snow in some places. Over 60 million people suffered its effects, the worst being in the north where states suffered tens of billions of dollars worth of damage. Some people called it a “Frankenstorm.”

There for a while, from Florida to Maine, the sun was hidden by clouds. Rain fell by the gallon as coastal towns were drowned with swelling tides. But amazingly, no matter how hard it rained, no matter how high the waves, it didn’t put out the sun. Go figure.

Light Source

The difference between the righteous and the wicked is their source of light. As with the sun, the Light of the righteous is far beyond the reach of nature. No storm, no matter how big, can quench its flame. It may be hidden from view at times, but it is always there, and always will be.

The wicked, on the other hand, light their own lamp. In other words, the source of their “light” comes from within, below the storm, subject to both torrent and tempest. It will go out, eventually.

“Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD And rely upon his God. Look, all you who kindle a fire, Who encircle yourselves with sparks: Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled–This you shall have from My hand: You shall lie down in torment.” – Isaiah 50:10-11 NKJV

 Still There was Light

Years and years ago, back when I lived in Kentucky, God allowed a “Frankenstorm” to hit the coasts of my life. The storm was so big and lasted so long, literally nothing of my own making remained standing. FEMA couldn’t even help me.

At one point it was so bad; it was so dark, that I literally raised my fist to heaven, cursed my God, and begged Him to do what I was too afraid to do. I told Him I hated Him and wanted nothing more to do with Him. It was a bad, bad storm.

Yet….(isn’t that a great word?)…Yet, even in the middle of the darkness, there was a Flame that could not be quenched. Even as I cursed my Heavenly Father, inside I could hear a still, small Voice whispering, “I understand…I know…It’s OK…I’m here…Let it out…I still love you…I’m not going anywhere.”

If you could see me crying right now…it’s hard to see the computer screen.

The light of the righteous rejoiceth…


Navigate Wisely

Proverbs 13:6

“Righteousness keepeth [him that is] upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.”

Choices

On the night of 13 January 2012 the captain of the cruise ship Costa Concordia chose to deviate from the agreed course for his ship to bring the ship close to the island of Isola del Giglio. He should have known better. The ship hit a reef. The hull was breached and the ship began to take on water, eventually listing to starboard and running completely aground. If the captain had chosen instead to remain on the right course the ship would have remained upright and lives would not have been lost.

Life presents us with many choices. From an early age we learn that some choices are better than others. Some choices make life easier, some make life more difficult. Some choices bring us praise, while other choices bring us trouble. The captain of the Costa Concordia may have thought that giving his passengers a treat by sailing close to shore would bring him praise. Instead it brought him trouble, and continues to do so.

Righteousness or Wickedness?

Righteousness is a word that is commonly associated with religion. It is defined by Merriam-Webster as ‘acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin.’ Deliberately seeking to be righteous in the way that we think, speak and live out our lives provides a level of protection against bad choices, defined in Proverbs 13:6 as ‘wickedness.’ The attraction of sin is sometimes overpowering and we need to be able to defend ourselves against the bad choices that mislead us and misdirect us. Make the wrong choice and it will eventually, if not immediately, cause us harm.

Which Way?

The Hebrew word for way used in this verse may be translated as a road, or a course as in the case of a ship. We are all on a journey. We are free to choose which road or course we follow, but to maintain the right course requires effort and commitment. For a ship’s officer it is necessary to make regular course adjustments to counter the effects of currents and wind. Course alterations may be required to avoid dangerous reefs and shallow water. It is essential to make frequent checks on the ship’s position to ensure that it is still on course.

A good navigator is always alert to dangers and will not sail too close to them. A good navigator aims to bring the ship safely home to harbor, not end up aground on some foreign reef.

Photo/news story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/15/costa-concordia-disaster-transport-titanic

 


I Was Despicable

Proverbs 13:5

“A righteous [man] hateth lying: but a wicked [man] is loathsome, and cometh to shame.”

Loathsome Lies and Shame

I have shared before that as a child and teenager I had a habit of stretching the truth, spreading rumors, and flat-out lying. I was rather despicable.

In truth, I told these stories and fabrications to satisfy my own needs.

My need to feel important. (People actually listened to me!)

My need to feel accepted. (People listening felt like people liking me!)

My need to control my life. (That big lie we all believe at some point in our lives.)

Many times, I got caught in my deception. I felt shame and guilt. It led to hating people more and more.

Hating … in a good way

I also have shared before that  because of my deceitful tongue, I learned the importance of being open with people.

I started out hating people, because I felt that no one understood me and no one wanted to be with me.

I learned to hate those things that pushed people farther away. I learned how much God hates sin, and I wanted to hate what He hates.

Several chapters ago, we discussed some things God hates: specifically “lying lips”.

We should hate lies. We should love honesty and openness. Otherwise, we will find ourselves coming to shame and being hated.

Good Father, thank You for Your truth and confronting us in our lies. Thank You for Your forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Forgive those who continue in lies. Help us learn to hate anything that goes against Your truth.


You Think You’re Better than Me?

Proverbs 12:26

“The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.”

I’m No Better

How many times have you been told that you should never think of yourself as better than anyone else? I have to remind myself of that every time I get behind the wheel of a car. You may have to be reminded every time you go through the checkout isle at the grocery store.

So, if we are to believe that we are all human and no better than our neighbor, why does today’s proverb say that “the righteous is more excellent than his neighbor?” Maybe it would help to look at some other ways this could be translated.

Three Versions

The English Standard Version reads, “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Now, let’s read what the Holman Christian Standard says: “A righteous man is careful in dealing with his neighbor, but the ways of the wicked lead them astray.”

Finally, the Revised Standard Version says, “A righteous man turns away from evil, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Even though the last part of the verse remains consistent, the first part does not. What’s the deal?

Translating

I am no Hebrew scholar by any definition of the term. However, if you were to look at the Hebrew text for this proverb you would find that there are only 6 words. What is interesting is that it takes anywhere from 15 to 19 words to say the equivalent in English.  The key is “equivalent.”

Interpreters of Scripture sometimes have to translate meaning, not just word for word definitions. And when this happens, the idea of what the original is saying may take more than just a few words to express. That is possibly why there are so many different versions of this one verse.

What’s the Idea?

Well, the idea of this verse is not that we as believers should think of ourselves as better than anyone else, but that the righteous should care about where the unrighteous are heading.

The contrast between the two parallel parts of verse 26 is meant to highlight who cares more for his friends – the righteous man. To put the KJV in a way that compares more with the other versions, it is saying that the heart of the righteous and the way he cares for his friends is much different than the wicked man who only wants to deceive and lead astray.

The righteous man is not “better” than his neighbor; he only cares about where his neighbor is going.

A Prayer: Lord, help us to be good neighbors. Help us to care about others and guide them to You. Don’t let us lead others astray.


Choose Your Guarantee

Proverbs 12:21

“There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief.”

Good and Bad Life

There are certain things that no one can get away from in this life. There are good things and bad things that will have an effect on every person. Jesus told us so, when speaking about God: “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

In terms of today’s passage, this deals more with how we conduct our lives.

When we do good things in the pursuit of God, we may very well see good things in our lives. Wise choices generally make life easier and better.

Simply pursuing what we want or what makes us feel good or willfully causing pain or grief to others will eventually lead to bad things in life. We can not spend beyond our means for too long before we have to deal with the consequences of over-spending. We can not push the world away and expect the world to continue to help and give anything good.

It especially applies with our relationship to God

When we are following our Lord, when we believe in the truth of who Jesus Christ is and live out our faith, we have a guarantee, a strong hope, that we will one day be with Him forever.

The wicked have no such guarantee. Choosing your own path and not believing in Jesus Christ, choosing to promote your own well-being and happiness without considering others, disregarding the teachings of the Bible, all of these all but guarantee suffering when this life is over.

Which path do you choose this moment?

Loving God, thank You for Your grace. Thank You for giving us a way out of our mischief and troubles. Strengthen us to choose You every moment of every day that we may show love and grace to others when they choose the path of wickedness.


Play It Smart, Not Safe

Proverbs 12:13

“The wicked is snared by the transgression of [his] lips: but the just shall come out of trouble.”

By What We Say

There is a funny thing about evidence. It points to the truth.

Guilty

Watching some of the detective shows on television can be a trip, because there is always somebody accused of doing something. Sometimes the person being accused is innocent while the accuser is the guilty one. Sometimes the accused really is guilty.

Most of the time each party, guilty and innocent, is revealed by the simplest of things: what they have said.

Whether they are the accused, accuser, or someone on the sidelines of the investigation, the guilty party often gets caught, because they say the one thing that reveals their guilt.

Free

There are a few reasons why the Christian is called to honesty:

  • God is Truth (John 15:26). If we are in God, then God is in us. Lies should be the last thing on our minds.
  • We are commanded to truth (Ephesians 4:25).
  • We are blameless in the truth.

Here is what the last one really means:

If we do what we say, avoid wrong-doing, and speak honestly in all things, there is no evidence against us.

When all of the evidence supports us, we get out of trouble.

(To be fair, however, we also know that we will receive much trouble because of the truth and righteousness of Christ, as told by Jesus in Matthew 24:9)

It is always better to “play it safe” and be honest, but there is also ample evidence throughout the Bible that we are called to the higher standard.

Ultimately, it is repenting of our lying hearts and turning to the truth of who Jesus Christ is that saves us from Ultimate Trouble. That is not just playing it safe. That is smart.

Righteous Judge, give us honest hearts and lips. Lead us in all truth. Help us forgive and love those who are still caught in the lie of sin, especially when we are caught in the middle of their lies. Help us to be honest with ourselves and own up to our own lies.


The Word that Makes a Difference

Proverbs 12:12

“The wicked desireth the net of evil men: but the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.”

Which Word?

In the version of Scripture written above (KJV), the Hebrew word מָצוֹד (mä·tsōde’) is translated net. In other versions it is rendered as stronghold, booty, catch, loot, and “what evil men have” (HCSB). So which is the correct word? Simple! The correct word is מָצוֹד; the rest are translations.

Seriously, there are still many in Christendom who would argue over this, but I’m not going to. You see, the idea is the same: the wicked desire what evil men have, along with whatever it takes to get and keep it.

Sometimes it’s just not that easy to put all that into one English word.

The Contrast

There is a stark contrast between the “wicked” and the “righteous.” Can you distinguish it? One wants what another has, while the other wants nothing more than to produce for others.

We see in this proverb the difference between one man who envies the successful criminal, and another man who cares not for what others have; he just wants to be a productive citizen.

The wicked, however resourceful, however brilliant, is selfish. In his heart he longs to be more like his more evil counterparts, his heroes who live in bigger houses, drive nicer cars, and exert more influence and power. He cares nothing about who he has to walk on to get there, even his heroes.

The righteous is content with where he is planted and only wants to do the best with what he has been given. He doesn’t necessarily aspire for a greater station in life, only to be useful, helpful, and an encouragement to future generations. He is known for giving of himself.

The Hard Truth

But do you want to know something really sad? Do you want to hear something horrible? So many of us have allowed ourselves to be the “wicked” man in this proverb and don’t even realize it!

James chapter four deals a lot with the envious nature of man and his tendency to fight and war when he doesn’t get what he wants. We war with each other because we want what the other has. We lust; we envy; we even consider killing.

You cry out in defense of your character, “Oh, but that’s not me!” Really? I’d bet you a dollar to a movie ticket you’ve had thoughts like the “wicked” man in Proverbs 12:12. Ever wished you could be the bad guy in a movie? Ever wished you could have the power that came with being a vampire? Ever wished you could strike fear into a person’s heart like a mob boss can?

See, the hard truth is that none of us are righteous, “no not one.” Our wicked flesh is more desperate and sneaky than we give it credit. But how do we change? As the Apostle Paul once asked (Rom. 7:24), “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Jesus, that’s who…the Word that really makes a difference.

 


Kindness to Animals

Proverbs 12:10

“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

Wicked and Cruel

I will never forget a particular video I saw posted on YouTube. The owner of a large python purchased a fluffy, brown rabbit and brought it home. There, in his living room, he let this peaceful, tame rabbit meant to be a pet hop around while his sorry snake got closer and closer.

Snickering with anticipation, the owner of the snake filmed the unwary rabbit as it got accustomed to its new environment. Then, it happened – the python struck, coiled around the rabbit, and began its death squeeze. But what made me sick, as I am sure it did God, was when the snake’s owner got up close to the rabbit and laughed. He laughed because the rabbit cried.

There is a Difference

It is one thing to kill an animal for food, or even in self-defense. It is even understandable to kill animals when their populations get out of hand. But it is something totally different when a human is intentionally cruel to something helpless and trusting.

This proverb says that “a righteous man regardeth (knows, cares about) the life” of his animal. In contrast, the wicked are cruel. But some may wonder, “What does it matter?” It matters to the one who values life.

“His Eye Is On the Sparrow…”

It might surprise people to know that God cares about the lives of animals. When Jonah was upset because God did not destroy Nineveh, God said unto him,

And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” – Jonah 4:11

Literally, the last words of God in the story of Jonah concerned the cattle of a pagan city. If God cared about these cattle, does it not stand to reason that He might disapprove of torturing pets? Remember, not a sparrow falls without Him knowing (Matt. 10:29).

This is the thing: let there be no mistake, if a human can find enjoyment in the suffering of helpless animals, then what is to keep him from harming helpless humans? Wickedness breeds wickedness.

A Prayer

Father God, help us to treat all life with respect, for it is You who created life. You made Man in the image of Yourself, but you also made all creation for your pleasure. Help us to be mindful and caring, not wicked and cruel. And thank you, Lord, for if you care about the beasts of the field, then how much more do you care for your children?