Solomon looks at several aspects of life. He highlights what will build up and what will tear down a life. Which ‘construction crew’ are you on?
First of all, when I was reading the last time I thought there was a break like the ones we have been following from my bible helps. I was wrong because I didn’t take time to go to my helps. There is a different kind of notation in the beginning of verse 3. Seeing the character prompted me to stop with the first two verses in this chapter. Looking at my bible helps today I see them break down this section a bit different than I did. Truth is, after reading all that the helps put together, I feel the first two verses were strong enough and distinct enough to stand alone from the rest of this passage. We are going to finish what was grouped together today instead. Now that that is over, let’s dig in and see where the Spirit takes us today.
We see Solomon take us on a ‘tour’ of attitudes and character traits of both good and evil people. Verse three, to me, sets the stage for that ‘tour’. God desires for us to do what is right without having to be pushed or shoved. “Just do what is right and you won’t need to ask for forgiveness through a sacrifice.” This isn’t because God is tired of hearing us say we are sorry but he longs for us to walk so closely with Him that we won’t have need of repentance. He treasures this fellowship. He loves us UNCONDITIONALLY but when we sin it puts a barrier in our relationship. If we don’t ‘knock it down’ through repentance, it becomes a wall. I speak from personal experiences when I say this!
There are more examples on the ‘tears down’ list than the ones on the ‘builds up’ list. I want to group the two and visit them that way. We will start with the bigger list and work our way through it first.
Some of the activities/attitudes on this list have been seen before in previous verses and chapters. First up is pride. This isn’t the ‘take pride in your work’ pride but the arrogant and I’m better than anyone else kind. It is the kind that drives you to want everyone else to notice you. It first is self-seeking instead of others’ centered.
Next up on the list is rushing through a job without care. I am pretty sure we have ALL done this in our lives at one time or another. I PRAY I never do that with our time with God. A lot of foremen would approve of a worker who was fast at their jobs. BUT this person is so hurried that they don’t take the time to do the job right. Corners are cut everywhere and the end result suffers, even if the cuts aren’t immediately seen but they compromise the overall success and longevity of the tasks. It’s the ‘lick and a promise’ group.
Moving on down the list we come to a lying tongue. This sin is so important to God that He included in the Ten Commandments. God wants only TRUTH to flow from our mouths. Truth spoken in LOVE though. ‘Blasting ‘ someone with the ‘truth’ can be as damaging as telling them a lie. NOTHING gained by deceit will give you sustained pleasure. It is NOT something to be proud of. It is downright shameful!
Continuing down the list we come to violence. Violence doesn’t solve any problem. It binds it to the hearts instead. Why do you think we remember times of war do deeply? Because it has burned its way into our hearts. There IS a place for discipline but violence is completely different. Violence is meant to do damage where discipline is meant to instruct.
I want to take a quick side trip here because of something that popped into my mind. We have all heard of the proverb “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” It is actually a rephrasing of one of the proverbs of Solomon that we have already seen. “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Proverbs 13:24). The rod of a shepherd wasn’t intended to beat on the sheep with. It was used as a guide and corrective tool. The shepherd bars the sheep’s path of escape with his rod (staff). He corrects their direction with a tap to their side or on their backs. A sheep that is familiar with his shepherd’s directions needs only a gentle reminder to fall in line. NO “violence” necessary. A simple word or wave of the hand to receive instructions.
Back to our original topic. The abused child or wife doesn’t learn to obey, because the rules are always changing. They learn to keep their distance and hide. They expect violence at every turn. They also learn how to hide in plain sight. And their hearts are scarred forever; unless God does a miracle in their lives.
Last on list one is a summary. ALL the above examples are summed up into what such a life looks like. “The way of the guilty is crooked” (verse 8a). Guilty of the above actions, attitudes, and lifestyles leads to a “crooked” path. One that is filled with problems, dangers and damages. NOTHING is ever simple in this kind of life.
On to the other list; the good list. We could put an opposite in here for each of the negative attributes we just looked at but I want to stay with the original good things Solomon pointed out. First on that list is diligence. This can be seen in SO MANY aspects of a person’s life. Sticking with a task, attention to detail, and a job done right are some of the phrases that pop into my mind in light of the other list. But that isn’t all that “diligence” covers. Consistency in coming to God, being careful with your money and resources, seeking God’s direction in your life, being mindful of the things you put in your mouth AND your mind, and maintaining a standard of integrity ALL speak of someone who is practicing diligence. This kind of person God says that their life will lead to abundance. This does NOT mean that their life will be easy or perfect. Nor does it say they will be wealthy and have many things. It can mean having many true friends. Or having a reputation that brings people to you for advice or council. To me it speaks of leaving a lasting impression in the lives you touch; a GOOD impression.
Next, and last, on this list is a summation of a life that is lived purely. “The conduct of the pure is upright” (verse 8b). By RUNNING from the things on the previous list and turning to God’s ‘diligent list’ leads to an ‘upright’ life. One that is pleasing to the Lord and a blessing to those around you. I want to add something in here that isn’t exactly specified but is implied. Solomon is looking at the “conduct” of the pure but if the heart isn’t right then this conduct would never have been seen. Anyone can ‘fake’ being ‘pure’ but that façade cannot stand the test of time. It takes a heart that is centered on God and under His direction to produce a life that is truly inspiring! Solomon said it with the word “pure” but I felt like I wanted to elaborate on that a little bit. This is the kind of life I PRAY I’m living. I know I fall short at times but I want my overall life to reflect. I want to make a lasting impression for the Lord.
Father God, help me live my life in a way that is acceptable to and speaks of You. Help me in the areas where I fall short. Keep me coming back to You for answers, direction, and simple ‘lap time’. Help me be diligent in ALL the areas of my life. A godly diligence that leaves a lasting impression for You.