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A thought: The path of the righteous

A few weeks ago when I was taking a walk, I passed a car with the license plate “PVB 3V5.” It dawned on me that the plate was a Christian confession that referred to Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

At home, I went back to Proverbs. Its writer, Solomon, is often considered one of the world’s wisest men, but he was not without his faults. I’ve read his collected wisdom several times and found it a helpful resource for living as a disciple of Jesus.

Recently we have faced confrontations, differences, and harsh discord, so I thought Solomon might have something to tell us. I also sense some of this world’s angry disagreement has rubbed off on us as Christians. Even we Christians engage our hot tempers and angry words. Too often we adopt the strategy of bullies and seem to believe that the louder we yell, the truer our thought. These attitudes and strategies among Christians—among us—trouble me.

What do I need to do to be like the morning sun for those around me?

Solomon saw and learned a lot not only from his interactions with people but also from the Scriptures. One of the first things he wrote reminds us of the source of truth: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (1:7). Our Christian lives begin with the “fear of the Lord.” I think “fear” means we respect the Lord—respect his power and holiness. We live under his awesome power. We will eventually leave this life and face him, finally understanding the magnitude of that power. Living here with that kind of respect is certainly the beginning of knowledge.

But I have another reason to respect the Lord. He loves me enough to rescue me from my foolish, angry sinful nature and behavior. He sent a Savior to shed his blood to cleanse me. Because of that love, I will stand in his presence, bow in humility, and sing his praises eternally for all his undeserved gifts. This respect leads me to pursue his truth and eagerly seek instruction from it. Fools have neither kind of respect.

My path is governed by respect for the Lord and a desire to be different from the fools who show no respect. Solomon described that path too: “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day” (4:18).

What do I need to do to be like the morning sun for those around me? I think Solomon has much to say.

  • “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (12:18).
  • “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1).
  • A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel” (15:18).
  • “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (16:24).
  • “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil” (15:28).

Living here with people who think differently and act in anger—sometimes bullying others—I must confess that it’s not easy to follow such lessons. I will certainly disagree with others—and I must disagree when others oppose God’s Word—but I must still follow the path of righteousness rather than gush evil. That especially applies when we disagree with brothers and sisters in Christ. We belong to Christ and are his lights who speak gracious words and healing, even when we disagree.

Author: John A. Braun
Volume 108, Number 2
Issue: February 2021

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This entry is part 21 of 46 in the series a-thought

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