The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight,
but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.
The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.
In these two short little proverbs we see Solomon comparing the righteous and the wicked. And this comparison of the righteous and the wicked is an overarching theme throughout the book of Proverbs. And the reason Solomon so often choses to compare the righteous and the wicked is because it helps to fulfill the purpose of the book Proverbs. And that purpose is to provide and develop wisdom, insight and guidance that is aimed at inspiring right and reasonable living by God’s standards. It is by applying this wisdom to life that simple people become wise thinkers, youth gain knowledge and good judgement, and the wise become even wiser. Even though Proverbs is basically a handbook of wisdom to inspire right living, there is a sure foundation for that wisdom: “the fear of the LORD.” This means having a deep respect for God’s amazing power and authority as Creator and Judge. This holy respect for God is the most important motivation for developing wisdom. In a practical sense, “the fear of LORD” involves a serious determination to do what God says is right and worthy of honor, and to avoid what he says is wrong and worthy of judgment. In other words you have a choice as to whether you will be “wise” or not.
Now that we have an understanding of what Solomon is attempting to do in the book of Proverbs let’s turn our attention to the first of today’s two verses. And it says, “The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness” (Proverbs 11:5). When we talk about clearing a path it literally means to make it straight, to improve it so it is easy to walk on. The “blameless” person or to put it a better way the one who has been found “blameless” because of their acceptance of God’s grace, will not grow weary or fall on the path that has literally been made straight for them and so will reach their destination. However, in contrast the wicked person’s path has not been cleared and has not been made straight. Because they have chosen to live a life that has rejected God’s grace and so their path is overgrown and full of traps that they will fall into, simply because of their choices. However, if the wicked person should choose to repent and come under God’s grace then their paths will be become clear and straight enabling them to reach the destination that God has in mind for them.
The second verse in our passage for today goes on to say this, “The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires” (Proverbs 11:6). The principle that Solomon is trying to impart here goes hand in hand with the principle that he was teaching in verse 5, because just as when you stay on the straight and clear path you will reach the destination that God has mind for you, so too will it lead to fewer problems. This, however, does not mean that those who follow God will never have any problems; in fact many times we as followers of God will experience more difficulty and opposition because of our commitment to God. But when we do what God is right we can be assured that when we suffer or have trouble, God will come to our rescue and work things our for the best in his own time.
However, in order to truly understand what Solomon is telling us here, we must fast forward to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount contains a powerful but yet practical revelation of the principles and standards by which God expects all Christians to live. Of course, it should go without saying, that living up to these standards is possible only through faith in Jesus, the Son of God, and through the power of the Holy Spirit. In this message, Jesus teaches a large group of potential followers what it really means to follow him and be a part of God’s kingdom. All who belong to the kingdom are to demonstrate Godly character and have an intense hunger and thirst for righteous, or to put it this way we are to have a hunger and thirst to do what is right and to maintain a right relationship with God.
Our focus within this famous teaching set of Jesus is on two verses found in Matthew 7, and those two verses say this, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (7:13-14). Jesus here taught that we are not to expect a majority of people to follow him on the road that leads to eternal life with God. And we see two important things in these two short but powerful verses, and they are:
- Comparatively few will pass through the gate of Godly humility and true repentance, which is turning from and denying ones own way in order to follow Jesus. This means doing all that we can to obey his commands, pursuing his purposes and standards and pressing on through the difficulties of life with true faith, purity and love.
- In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus describes the great benefits and blessings that go along with being his disciple or a disciplined follower and/or learner, but Jesus also insists that his followers will face opposition and persecution. Jesus taught that following him is costly. It involves making difficult choices and going through difficult situations at times. And we have obligations concerning right living, pressing on in faith through persecution, love for our enemies and self-denial. What we must remember is that the initial step of surrendering to Christ and accepting his forgiveness for sin may not be difficult, but trusting him to make the necessary life changes and continuing to follow him, no matter what, is not an easy path to follow and will test our faith extremely.
The question that you must ask yourself is very simply this: Am I on the straight and clear path that will get me to the destination that God tends for me or have I wandered off that path and on to a path that will only lead to death and destruction? For you see we all face the dilemma that the traveler in very famous poem faced. And that poem reads:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be on traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
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. (The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost)
When you look back over your life’s journey will you like the traveler in this poem be able to say two roads diverged, and I took the one less traveled and that has made all the difference.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Numbers 16:41-18:32, Mark 16, Psalm 55:1-23 and Proverbs 11:7
Success! You're on the list.
Whoops! There was an error and we couldn't process your subscription. Please reload the page and try again.