Tag Archives: Righteousness

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.


The Fruit of Your Tree

Proverbs 11:30

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”

Connected Wisdom

This blog is all about gleaning wisdom from the book of proverbs. What is interesting is that in terms of the Bible proverbs is quite a strange book. There isn’t really another book like it. We have these couplets some that link to others, some that can stand alone, others make perfect first glance sense while others still talk about pigs and women. It all seems a bit random… at first but look long enough and you will start to see the connections.

Finding the Threads

One thing I have been diligent at over the last couple of years is reading through the Bible. Every six out of seven days I sit and I make time for it. Not an awful lot of time but time. And something has happened. I know the Bible better than I ever have done. I remember bits of it. I know my way around it. And when I read proverbs like this my mind is draw on a journey through the Bible to get to the truth.

The Truth

So let’s take a look – ‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life’, the first thing is that this is talking about a tree of life not the tree of life. So the verse seems to be implying that the righteous will bring life by their fruit. In John 10:10 Jesus tells us that He has come to bring ‘life to the fullest’ so it’s a good bet that the fruit of the righteous involves Jesus. In fact in John 15 Jesus Himself tells us that the way to produce this fruit is to remain in Him. What does this mean? Quite simply that if we plant ourselves in Jesus then we are more likely to produce His fruit which will bring life to all who taste it.

Of course we still have a choice. We can stubbornly remain in Jesus or gladly remain in Him. Which ever we do will shape the type of fruit we produce and therefore the type of life we are bringing to others. I wonder what type of fruit others are getting from you? Nice to look at but bland in taste? Or fresh and full of freedom?

Soulsome Fruit

The second part of the verse is also a theme clearly picked up by Jesus – that of building eternally rather than temporarily.

Stop reading and think about all the things that were on your mind before you started reading. Now on a piece of paper draw two columns one for temporary and one for eternal. List the things you were thinking off in the correct category. How did you do? Balanced? More on earth than heaven? I could go on but I’m guessing your list will be challenge enough for today.

Matt 6:19-21 ‘ “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”‘


What Are Your Expectations?

Proverbs 11:23

“The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.”

Righteous People

When we think of the term “righteous,” think of someone who is fair and just, for that is what the word entails. We’re not necessarily talking about a pious saint, or something, but a decent, God-fearing man or woman.

What are the characteristics of this type of person? The proverb says they “desire…only good.”

Now, some interpret this verse in such a way as to say, “The godly can look forward to a reward,” as in the New Living Translation. The ESV says that the desire of the righteous “ends only in good.” But I think it is better to interpret this verse as saying, “The object of the desire of the righteous is good.”

Righteous people are good people; they want good things to happen. And usually, because of their desires, good is the result.

Wicked People

Wicked people, on the other hand, want no such thing: they want trouble. What is good for the wicked is bad for everyone else. Wrath is what they hope for.

Again, some interpreters want to convey the idea that what the wicked will receive in the end is wrath. In other words, wrath is what they should expect in the end. That may be so, but there is something here in this verse worth noting.

Hope and Desire

The word translated “expectation” is also the Hebrew word for “cord,” as in a “line” of scarlet thread. Yes, it can mean “hope,” but interestingly it was the same word used in Joshua 2:18 that is translated “line,” as in the scarlet thread that Rehab hung from her window.

The word translated “desire” has more to do with a strong passion for something. Literally, it is the good version of lust. Lust is the wanting of something bad. In this case, desire is the longing of one’s heart for good.

It may not be a huge difference, but here are my “thoughts.” The only hope that a wicked, sinful heart has is the hope of selfish gain, even at the expense of every one else.

The desire of the righteous, however, is for good, and that selfless desire is a result of the Hope they have within.

Practically Speaking

Do you see all those people burning cars and beating people in the name of religion or anti-fascism? Do you see them calling for the destruction of others (including babies) in order to bring about or facilitate their desires? As they rejoice over the destruction of property and the death of innocents, they prove they are wicked.

Do you see those who walk into the fire to rescue the perishing? Do you see those who pray for peace? Do you see those who pray for the souls of wicked who persecute and mock them? They are the righteous.

So the question is: what are your expectations?


Warning Signs

Proverbs 11:19
As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.

Multiple Warnings

As a child, one of the things that I learned very quickly was that if my parents told me “To Do” or “Not To Do” something over and over again, I knew that it must be important, and I either better do it or not do it. In the same way as my parents, Solomon is giving us multiple warnings about which path we should choose – righteousness or evil. Here are just a few of the examples:

  • Proverbs 10:6 – “Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.”
  • Proverbs 12:2 – “A good man obtaineth favour of the Lord: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn”
  • Proverbs 14:11 – “The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.”

The warnings are out there and we must heed them with all our heart!

It’s Our Choice

Even if we can clearly see the warning signs that are out there, it is still our choice to live a righteous life or to “pursue evil”. We can see in this verse that “he” made a choice to go after evil. The word “pursue” has several meanings:

  1. To follow in order to catch or attack
  2. Seek to attain or accomplish
  3. Continue or proceed along a path
  4. Engage in

In each one of these definitions there is one constant – there is a choice that must be made! We must make the choice daily to run in the opposite direction of sin and run into the arms of a loving and gracious God. We need to remember the words of James 1:15 that says, “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” If we continue down the path toward evil, it will eventually lead us to death!

The warning signs are all around us, but it is still up to us to make the right choice as to which path our lives will lead. Will we take the path of righteousness or will we pursue evil? I hope each one of us can live out the words that Joshua said in Joshua 24:15,

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Lord, help us to pursue YOU with all our heart! No matter what may come our way, help us to choose YOU! Help us to stand firm on our Word and make you our refuge until that glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior!


Naughty Nothing – Pursuing Illusion

Proverbs 11:6

“The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.”

Other Versions

As I did with the last verse, let’s look again at a couple of other versions of Proverbs 11:6. Let’s look at the New King James (NKJV)and the New International Version (NIV).

The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, But the unfaithful will be caught by their lust.” –  NKJV

The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.” –  NIV

It would seem that the part that is causing any confusion or needs any clarification is the word “naughtiness.” I wonder if that has anything to do with the phrase we hear around Christmas, “naughty or nice?”

Naughtiness

Whenever I hear this word it makes me think of strict elementary school teachers, paddles, grandmothers, and disobedient, candy-stealing, bratty children. Snotty-nosed little kids are “naughty.” So why was this word chosen in the translation of the Hebrew word havah?

Havah can be translated as words such as “desire,” “mischievous,” or “perverse.” As a matter of fact, both the NKJV and the NIV do a good job and conveying the appropriate message. Yet, when you dig into the word “naughty” there is something worth noting.

According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of the word “naughty” can be found in the word “naught,” which is an old, Middle English word for “nothing.”

Taking that into account, what is “naughtiness” but the perverse and lustful pursuit of what amounts to essentially nothing? The transgressor, the “unfaithful,” shall be caught and destroyed by what seems to him as “real” and “natural.” While he scoffs at faith and pursues wickedness, he is doing nothing more than chasing an illusion. What a fool.

The Upright

The “righteousness” of the believer is nothing more than faith, for without faith (in His Word; in His Son) it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). One cannot be righteous without it.

One cannot be “upright” without a foundation on which to stand, but get this! “Faith is the substance,” the foundation on which the righteous stand upright. Faith is what delivers!

The wicked says, “I don’t believe in God, only the things I can see and feel.” Then he pursues a “nothingness” that leads to destruction.

The righteous puts his faith in the unseen Hand of God, and is delivered from destruction.

Scripture is full of irony, isn’t it?


Not That Complicated

Proverbs 11:5

“The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.”

“The godly are directed by honesty; the wicked fall beneath their load of sin.” – NLT

“The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness.” – HCSB

Straightforward, or Complicated

Some people love to live lives that are in constant turmoil. They love the drama. They thrive on making excuses for failure. They are the wicked. They live complicated lives.

Then there are others who love to live simple, ordinary lives. They deal with issues in a sensible fashion. When they don’t succeed, they try again, learning from their mistakes. They are the “perfect,” the godly. Their lives are pretty straightforward.

The difference between the ways of the blameless and the wicked can be seen in how complicated or straightforward they are. One is clear for travel, while the other is littered with obstacles.

9 to 5, or 90 to Life

Speaking of Prov. 11:5, one commentary says, “Righteous living results in a straight way (cf. 3:5-6), a life with fewer obstacles and troubles (cf. 11:8), but wickedness leads to a person’s downfall.”[1] It really all comes down to how a person lives his life.

Honest, hard-working people who go to work and provide for their families are not usually the partying type. And by virtue of their consistency, their lifestyle is usually free of trouble. But when you look at the lives of people who live to fulfill the desires of the flesh, they are constantly in and out of court, in and out of jobs, and in and out of jail.

The difference is that living right makes the road of life smoother, while living wickedly brings trouble. Sometimes I wonder why that truth is so hard to understand. Yet, there are many who would rather risk prison than live in a way that pleases God.


[1] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Pr 11:5). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.


Duplicitous

Proverbs 11:3

“The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”

Perverse

The NIV words this verse in this way: “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” Notice the first part is the same. Technically, so is the second part.

The KJV reminds us that sinners are perverse. When most people hear or read “perverse” they tend to think of sexual deviants of various sorts, but that’s not the primary meaning. Consider how Merriam-Webster (.com) defines “perverse”:

a: turned away from what is right or good :corrupt

   b:improper, incorrect    c: contrary to the evidence or the direction of the judge on a point of law <perverse verdict>

a: obstinate in opposing what is right, reasonable, or accepted :wrongheaded

   b: arising from or indicative of stubbornness or obstinacy

From this we see that all people are perverse in some way at some point (or all points) in life. We also see that it is because of a willful disobedience.

For many this means destruction. This is not just losing everything or dying, but it could very well have bad eternal significance.

This also means that, for Christians, we are frequently duplicitous. We wish to serve God, but we put forth a mindset contrary to what our Judge would have for us.

In the parable of the sheep and the goats of Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus says that those whom He calls goats think they are good people. When He comes to judge the world, their duplicitousness will prove their doom. As He said in the final two verses, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

What Do We Do?

As one of my favorite passages words it:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. – James 4:7-9

Heavenly Father, help us live a life that honors You. Clean our hands and purify our hearts that we may not be perverse or double-minded. Thank You for saving us from our sins, now please save us from ourselves. Make us a people of integrity, grace, and love.