Posted in Daily Living

Benefit or Woe? You Choose

“A good man obtaineth favor of the Lord:
but a man of wicked devices will he condemn”
– Proverbs 12:2 KJV

For many years, I’ve been following a simple daily Bible reading plan. I read one page of Psalms and the chapter from Proverbs that corresponds with the calendar date.

This means I have read through the book of Proverbs 100 times or more. Since it’s a book full of hints about becoming wise, I should be a sage. Sadly, I still act foolishly many times.

For the next month, this space in the blog will focus on a few tidbits of wisdom from Proverbs. Perhaps through the act of dissimulating my thoughts onto the written page I will increase my personal understanding.

When reading through Proverbs chapter 12, it’s easy to notice that Solomon compares the righteous with the wicked quite often. In fact, there are 13 verses in this chapter alone that speak of the benefit of being righteous and the woe of foolishness.

Stability

“The house of the righteous shall stand” (Pr. 12:7)

The 21st century has been a tough time in the economic realm. Deciding on a career that won’t be flayed open by cuts and closures seems like Russian Roulette.

Fortunately for believers, we enjoy the comfort and assurance of ancient promises made by an omnipotent and immutable God.  In fact, “the root of the righteous shall not be moved” (Pr. 12:3).

On the other hand, “a man shall not be established by wickedness” (Pr. 12:3). At times, it seems like the con men and deceivers are getting ahead. They own mansions, drive Lamborghinis and flash cash like a Disney Fast Pass.

However, just as certainly, we’ve seen those embezzlers caught and prosecuted, forced to forfeit those emblems of wealth upon which they trusted. “The wicked are overthrown, and are not” (Pr. 12:7). God’s justice is certain and sound.

Troublesome Times

“Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous
good shall be repayed” – Proverbs 13:21

Rather than focusing just on the economic issues we face, it’s important to consider that many other troubles can come our way. False accusations, sickness, loss through fire or flood and even familial heartaches, like children who go astray.

“The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips,” Solomon writes in Proverbs 12:13, “but the just shall come out of trouble.” Sometimes bad things happen to good people because we live in a fallen world. Take heart. God will bring you through the troubles.

When I read Proverbs 12:21, I get a little confused. “There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief.” Doesn’t this sound like if bad things happen in your life, you must not be a just person?

I think the best way to understand this is to break it down. These verses in Proverbs compare the just and the wicked using parallels. This means both halves of the verse refer to the same circumstances.

The fact that the “wicked shall be filled with mischief” seems to be self-explanatory. Rather than utilizing their time in profitable endeavors, these fools play with fire. They go knocking on Trouble’s door; there should be no surprise when they find it at home.

In this light, it seems that “no evil” happening to the just refers to the choices and focus of the just person. Rather than looking for trouble, the just person tries to avoid the path fraught with pitfalls. After all, if I don’t go looking for Trouble, it will have to come find me, minimizing my risk of getting caught in its snare.

Perception vs. Reality

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes:
but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise” – Proverbs 12:15

We’ve all met these people. They are on a train, speeding for the caved-in tunnel and wear a blithe smile, pretending all is well. Solomon calls them fools. Like Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Don’t be blinded by the smoke and mirrors. We have an opportunity to perceive reality with clear, unhindered vision, courtesy of God’s Word. As the second half of Proverbs 12:15 says, if we heed to the wise counsel of the Lord, it places us on the right path.

In fact, our adherence to God’s counsel provides benefits that outlast our temporary problems. “In the way of righteousness is life: and in the pathway thereof there is no death” (Pr. 12:28). Right living is real living with eternal benefits.

Your choice: life or death. Seems like a no-brainer, right?

Next week: The Pursuit of Knowledge

 

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Author:

Freelance writer and editor whose background in education and BA in English Language & Literature amps her love of all things books. Twenty years of parenting and 26 of marriage gives unique insight to her preferred audiences of women, young adults, and teenagers.

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