Tag Archives: Righteousness

Righteous or Disgraceful?

Proverbs 14:34

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”

America the Beautiful

The United States of America has been a pretty great place.

Many other nations have been defended with her military. Many freedoms have been advanced and celebrated. Many have come to the land of freedom with virtually nothing only to become wealthy and prosperous. More aid and missionaries have been sent out into the world than pretty much any other nation.

Because of all of these great things and more, millions of people try to get into the USA every year. These are amazing things, and others want a part of it!

The Great Satan

The United States of America has also become a nuisance.

Religious zealots around the world (primarily among Muslim extremist groups) have declared the USA “The Great Satan”. With all of our freedoms and accomplishments, they have been used to exploit each other and others. Moral superiority is claimed, yet those freedoms and accomplishments have become a log in the eye and a stumbling block. This “Christian nation” (as most other countries see it) also produces the most pornography and bigotry, exploits other nations for profit, and has some pretty backward laws and judicial decisions that create a culture the requires “Caution: Contents Hot” to be printed on coffee cups!

While greatly loved, the USA is also a bit of a global laughing-stock!

The Christian

Have you ever wondered why it seems the world is once again turning against the Church?

Christians have been called to a higher moral standard and a dedication to serving God by loving this fallen and hurting world. We are to be Christ to the nations.

The Western World has done a rather fantastic job of portraying a bunch of stuck-up, whiny, entitled hate-mongers who only love themselves and take advantage of others.

Fortunately, God always has a remnant of faithful followers (Romans 11).

And the funny thing about this remnant: they rarely have time to feel embarrassed or ashamed of those who make the Bride of Christ look bad. They are too busy loving everyone … including those who make the Bride of Christ look bad!

Choose today how you will live. Will it be as one who is righteous or disgraceful?

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your grace and love. Thank You for saving us from our disgrace. Thank You for Your Word and Your Holy Spirit who guides us in all righteousness. Help us to choose You and walk in Your ways.

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Two Roads

Proverbs 14:2

“He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.” (KJV).
“Those who follow the right path fear the LORD; those who take the wrong path despise him.” (NLT).

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost:

  • I shall be telling this with a sigh,
  • Somewhere ages and ages hence:
  • Two roads diverged in a wood and I –
  • I took the one less traveled by
  • And that has made all the difference 

Often, the references to roads in poetry are metaphors to make us think of our lives and how we live them. Even Jesus used this metaphorical sense in talking about roads when He said, “Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  (Matthew 7:13-14).

Everyone wonders: how do we find the road to the blessed life?  Jesus said that this road is the road less traveled by – that there are few who find it – and that it will make all the difference, for this is the road that leads to life. I believe this is what Solomon was talking about in the above Proverb:

The First Road – The Wrong Path:

The first road that Jesus talks about is the wide road that leads to destruction. He says there are many people who walk on that road. Proverbs 14:2 says that those who are perverse in their ways – those who take the wrong path – show that they despise God by walking on this road. It’s like God put up a big sign that said, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here” and yet foolish people still choose that road. The road of sin, rebellion, and ultimately death. But there is another road…

The Second Road – The Right Path:

The second road that Jesus talks about is the narrow and difficult way that leads to life. He says that – sadly – there are few who find this road. Proverbs 14:2 says that those who walk in their uprightness – those who follow the right path – fear the Lord. And here is the key to walking on the right path. It starts with a fear of the Lord.

To fear the Lord doesn’t mean that we are afraid of Him. However, it does mean that we respect Him, and when He says, “This is the way, walk in it,” we obey. Because we trust Him. And we know that the commands that He gives to us are for our own good.

Today, you are standing at a crossroads. Two roads diverge in a wood. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for those who choose the easy way. But the road to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few find it. Take the narrow road – the road less traveled by. It will make all the difference in your life!


Generally Speaking

Proverbs 12:28 

“In the way of righteousness [is] life; and [in] the pathway [thereof there is] no death.”

Generalities

As a genre, many of the Proverbs are spoken in general terms, such as with Proverbs 22:6, which reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The principle is trustworthy, obviously, but we all know that there are going to be children who go astray and never come back.

Similarly, when we read this verse we see the statement that “the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.” Well, what does this mean? Is the writer trying to say that if one lives a righteous life he will never die? What about Christian martyrs? Did they not die?

Specifics

The general idea is that the way of righteousness, and the ones who travel down its path, will fare better. It is much like a verse I commented on a while back, “The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness” (Proverbs 11:5 HCSB).

But there is a truth that is very specific to the follower of Christ. It can be found in another verse.

“But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:” – 2Timothy 1:10

Generally speaking, it is more likely that you will experience life, not death, when you travel a righteous path. But when it comes to the end of life, which will eventually come, eternity awaits.

Specifically speaking, the person who puts his faith in Jesus Christ and believes His gospel will have immortality.

That’s the path I want to be on. What about you?


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.


Good Heathen?

Proverbs 12:17

“[He that] speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.”

Pretty Clear

This is one of those passages that does not need much explanation. Yet, to sum it up even more: Truth is good; lies are bad.

I think there is definitely more to this, however.

Bad Christian!

First is the negative message: Good people occasionally lie.

I will now rewrite the second half of the verse: “a false witness shows deceit.”

This is why even “little, white lies” fall under “not good” or even “bad” with some people. It is still bearing false witness. It is still deceitful.

It does not necessarily mean a person is full of deceit. In fact, “little, white lies” are often told to spare someone pain, to not hurt the feelings of someone else. Sadly, something is still covered up, hidden, which should be made known.

Good heathen!

As much as some Christians can not or struggle to admit, there is some good in all people. I am fairly certain that carries over from Creation, seeing as “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). All of humanity carries at least a little bit of God in them.

Therefore, it is possible for non-God-fearers to show forth righteousness. They may not be righteous, but they can still tell the truth (and do other good deeds).

Go and do likewise

Since we now know that speaking truth is showing righteousness, let us get out and spread some righteousness!

People are only made righteous through the work of God, and He desires for all people to cry out to Him.

But like it says in Matthew 5:

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

And as Romans 10 says:

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

Father God, rid us of deceit and lies. Let us only speak what is true. May You embolden us ever more to speak the truth of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that others may hear and glorify Your Name!


Vision or Fantasy?

Proverbs 12:11

“He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.”
Uh Oh

Hmmm. This is a proverb I usually avoid. Why? Because I have been labelled as a bit of a dreamer. Some have called me a visionary. That might sound great, but visionaries are often the one’s with ideas who never seen them through to completion! Who wants that?

Vision vs Fantasies

I guess there has to be a distinction between vision and fantasy. The Bible tells us that without vision the people perish. But how do we know that we have the right vision? Vision will give you food, and abundant food, it will also involve work – work for you to do.

But what if you are chasing the wrong vision? A man-made fantasy? Then there will be no pay of any real value. It will provide no sustenance. You will spend your days chasing one fantasy after another to try and find your fill, to make your million, and all to no avail.

Leaning on Webs

What about the times when we are pretty sure we have a God given vision and yet seem to be making no progress? Does that mean we are chasing fantasy? Don’t ask me! Go back to the source – ask God.

Have you stopped trusting in Him? Have you moved the goal posts? Cherish the vision He has given you. Work at it and never stop trusting.

“Such is the destiny of all who forget God;
    so perishes the hope of the godless.
What he trusts in is fragile;
    what he relies on is a spider’s web.
 He leans on his web, but it gives way;
    he clings to it, but it does not hold.” – Job 8:13-15 (NIV, edited)

Lean on God.


An Honest Salesman?

Proverbs 12:5

“The thoughts of the righteous [are] right: [but] the counsels of the wicked [are] deceit.”

It is not often that I choose to quote another author, but I found the following words instructive.

The plans of the righteous are right.” His designs are well-intentioned and morally sound because the mind of the righteous man is disciplined by wisdom. On the other hand, “the counsels of the wicked are deceit.” Their warped minds invent crooked methods for reaching their goals. To them the end always justifies the means.”*

The Ends

Do you ever stop to think about the “ends?” In other words, do you ever stop to think about the results of your actions, or your thoughts? Do you plan ahead? Do you think about consequences?

The “thoughts of the righteous are right” because the righteous have right hearts. And because of their righteous thoughts, the means to an end matter just as much as the result. They want to do what is right, because it is right.

On the other hand, the wicked think only of self-gratifying goals. As the above quote says, “To them the end always justifies the means.” Because of an unwise, wicked heart, what is right does not matter, only the desired result.

The Means

I have known many salesmen over the years. As a matter of fact, I was actually a pretty successful salesman at one time. But if there was anything that characterized the average salesman, it was the desire to make a sale, to “close the deal,” even if his “counsel” was a little deceitful.

The problem with many salespeople is that they will tell you whatever you want to hear, even things you don’t, in order to sell a product or service. What the customer needs or can afford is rarely a consideration when sales bonuses and large paychecks are at stake. As long as a dollar can be made, it is thought “the end justifies the means.”

So how do you know when you have met a “righteous” salesman? You will know him when he won’t sell you something, even when you think you want it. Happily, I can say that there were times I did just that, even when the rent was due. Taking advantage of customer was wrong, and even though I might have needed the money, the end didn’t justify the means.

Believe it or not, there are some honest salespeople out there. However, there are also a lot of deceitful customers, too. Just saying.

A Prayer

Dear Lord, give us a righteous heart that thinks right things. Keep us from wicked and deceitful thoughts. Give us a heart for others over the needs of self. Reprove us, Jesus, when we are tempted to deceive, for what waits in the end is anything but gain.

 


*James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996), Pr 12:2–7.