“6 Blessings crown the head of the righteous, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. 7 The name of the righteous is used in blessings, but the name of the wicked will rot. 8 The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin. 9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. 10 Whoever winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin.”
In Proverbs 10 we see the contrast of two drastically different characters, the wicked and the righteous. These two groups represent the two great classes of mankind. The great divide between those who delight in God and those who despise or dismiss Him. Belief effect behavior, and from their opposite characters come opposite ways of living, which lead to opposite destinies. Who and what we live for doesn’t just determine our destiny it dictates the blessing along the way. The righteous are rewarded with blessing because they receive God’s Word and respond in obedience. As a result they walk in security knowing that they will be remembered well. In contrast the wicked reject God’s Word and work to bring about hurt and harm. Since they sought the downfall of others their work will be cast down, instead of being remembered they will rot. It’s here that we see the contrast between:
- The Blessed vs the Bane
Verse 6 reveals that while the righteous are blessed the wicked get worked up and angered about it. It’s here that we see two different attitudes, one of adoration and one of anger. The agnostic is characterized by an angry attitude, while the Christian is characterized by joy and justice. This doesn’t mean that the righteous don’t face trials and tribulations. John 16:33 makes it clear that Christ’s followers will face adversity and affliction “33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” And 2 Timothy 3:12 reminds us that: “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Even though the righteous go through rough times their end is not one of ruin. Instead of being defined by sin we are defined by our Savior, it’s the Almighty not adversity that has the final say in our lives. The Christian is not defined by their crisis but by Christ who abundantly compensates. God pours out His blessings not only physically, but spiritually and eternally, Isaiah 32:17 says: “And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever.” God smiles on His saints, we are protected by His peace which passes all understanding. In sharp contrast to the saints stands the wicked. Where the righteous person gives and receives blessings, the wicked are characterized by violence. Jesus summed this up in Luke 6:45 when He said: “The evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart” As a result the righteous memory will be remembered while the wicked’s is repulsive. What legacy do you want to leave, one that is remembered and rejoiced or one that will rot? As you recall the righteous people of the past it can be a tremendous source of spiritual blessing, but in contrast most people want to forget the wicked because their character was corrupt, like that of a rotting corpse. No one wants to be forgotten, we want our name to survive our death. We want the life that we live to have mattered and the legacy that we leave to be significant not one that stinks. We want to be remembered with joy and rejoicing not regret. There are many who even though they are dead continue to speak. In the mid-1800s, Texas rancher Samuel Augustus Maverick left his cattle unbranded. As a result when neighboring cowboys came upon a calf without a brand, they called it a “maverick.” The word became part of the English language and came to refer to a person who takes an independent stand and refuses to conform. There are many other names that have become words which we use to describe a person’s character and behavior. Like Judas which means “traitor” or a Jezebel, a perverter. A Jonah, one who runs from God, or an Einstein meaning a genius, a Solomon, one who is wise. Even though most of our names will not become part of our language they will leave a legacy for future generations, signifying who we were and how we lived. Often when you think of someone that you have known and admired, the words you usually associate with their name are character traits you would like to emulate. Words like, honesty, generosity, and love often lead the list. We see these character traits in Christ, who allows us as His children to bear His name. Jesus wants to work in us and through us to make our name one that points to Him. When others think of you, do they think of Jesus? Blessings or bane come as a result of:
- Receiving the Word vs reject it
Verse 8 reminds us that there will be those who receive and respond to the Word of God and those who reject it, “The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.” What about you are you teachable? Do you desire not only to learn God’s Word but to live it and walk in His ways? A wise person doesn’t just accept Scripture as divine authority they apply it to their lives. Receptivity is a characteristic of the new heart, scripture says in 1 Peter 2:2 that the new born babe desires the sincere milk of the Word. While in Matthew 13 the parable of the sower tells us that the well broken good soil received the good seed, while the other types of soil keep it on the surface or so shallow that it never really took root. Receptivity is the chief cause of the great difference that results. Just as the thirsty ground drinks in the rain, so the wise long for the Word of God. In Matthew 5:6 Jesus in the sermon on the mount said, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” James 1:21 says “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls” How receptive are you to God’s Word? In contract to the wise is the fool who never quit talking long enough to learn truth. They would rather hear themselves babble than learn from the Bible. In the Hebrew the word fool refers to one who willfully refuses to make moral choices. They neither chose good nor reject evil, and while they are primarily depicted as morally stupid they should also be considered mentally stupid because they refuse to receive moral instruction and to learn from their mistakes. As Proverbs 12:15 states: “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” Verse 9 provides us with a promise, that those who walk before God in the land of the living will find a secure and shielded path, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” Those who accept and apply God’s Word don’t just develop integrity they walk in it which leads to security. Honesty is the policy that protects, but those who chose the crooked path stumble. Eventually they are revealed for what they are, and a lack of integrity has ruined many a mighty man. What about you are you walking carefully or compromising? Verse 10 tells us that the wicked may wink but it’s a bogus sham. Their artificially wise sounding conversation will come back to cast them into contempt. It’s often the emptiest vessels that rattle the loudest, and the one who despises God’s wisdom will fall victim of his own folly. These proverbs present the inevitable cause-and-effect relationship between human behavior and its outcome. Whether you like it or not God has rigged the universe for righteousness which means responding to His way prompts reward, while going against it will always lead to failure and forfeit. We have an opportunity and an obligation to make the right choice. So what choices are you making, will they result in a blessed life or a bane one? Are you receiving and responding to God’s Word or rejecting it?