Proverbs draws a double yellow line between the life of the righteous and the wicked.
The righteous are characterized by justice, wisdom, honesty, generosity, joy, victory, might, hard work, thoughtfulness, well-respected, blessing, purity, knowledgeable, self-control, maturity, contentment.
The wicked are headed completely the opposite direction. Drunkenness, gluttony, lazy, impulsive, foolish, violent, pride, selfish, lying, sinful, crooked, quarrelsome, simple, crooked.
Despite the obvious external contrast, the true difference between the two directions lies hidden in the heart.
Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise,Proverbs 22:17-19 ESV
and apply your heart to my knowledge,
18 for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
if all of them are ready on your lips.
19 That your trust may be in the Lord,
I have made them known to you today, even to you.
Compare that with the opposite viewpoint:
Haughty eyes and a proud heart,Proverbs 21:4-10 ESV
the lamp of the wicked, are sin.
5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
6 The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
7 The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
because they refuse to do what is just.
8 The way of the guilty is crooked,
but the conduct of the pure is upright.
9 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop
than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
10 The soul of the wicked desires evil;
his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes.
With the two options painted clearly in these chapters, and throughout proverbs, I have a choice. In some ways, every day I have a choice. All day long I have choices. Both paths have consequences. One leads us into closer communion with Christ, shines our light more brightly, and honors God. The other leads us further into ourselves often with dangerous repercussions.
Although I have declared Jesus to be my Lord and Savior and trust his work on the cross for my ultimate eternal life of blessing, I still need to be cautious not to make U-turns as I drive through life. These chapters hint at some of the temptations that might make the other direction appealing – pleasure, success, self-indulgence. They sound way more fun than discipline, hard work, and self-control. Yet, I trust that His way is best. I choose to love Him. I choose to deny myself. I choose to reject the world’s wisdom.
Dear God, your way is best. May the world never deceive me to thinking otherwise. May your truth control my path. Keep my steering steady and unswerving. Thank you for the reminders of the side-effects of evil choices that the temptation may never over power me. Thank you for the courage and boldness to press on. In Jesus name, amen.