This week’s proverb gives us many good points of counsel and wisdom. I am thankful for the deep well of help and guidance the proverbs are to us and our daily lives. The key is studying them and doing what they teach us. One of the proverbs that really stuck out to me in chapter 14 is verse 2:
“Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises him” (Proverbs 14:2).
The Bible constantly talks about the fact that we are known by our fruit. In other words, the evidence of those who honor and fear the Lord is portrayed in their lifestyles. Here Solomon is pointing out that uprightness or righteousness is evidence of a true and right fear of the Lord, whereas a life of deception or lawlessness shows the heart despises the Lord. So, before we go too far, which are you known by? Not necessarily when all things are going well but when life is coming hard at you or when you are frustrated or tired? Do you walk in uprightness or deviousness? Jesus says in Matthew 7 that people will be known by their fruit:
Matthew 7:15-20 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
The good news is it’s not up to you to produce fruit; it is the byproduct of the kind of tree you are. If diseased, you still stand in your sin and are not alive in Christ and therefore, you will not produce good fruit. If healthy, you have been made alive in Christ, and he will grow in you or produce in you the Fruit of the Spirit.
So, while we should “work out our salvation” (Phil 2:12) and “be doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22), this proverb serves more as a way to evaluate the true motives and heart of someone by the fruit he/she bears. God will not be mocked and false testimony will not stand to honor Him. Brothers, may we walk in uprightness and so prove that we do indeed fear the Lord and live for Him.
A second verse that stands out in the 14th chapter of Proverbs is verse 12:
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12).
We are truly blind and depraved apart from the grace-filled regeneration of God’s saving work in our lives. The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer 17:9). We have to be constantly aware of our fleshly tendencies and make war with them. The way of the flesh, as Solomon puts it, is the way to death. Christ in us is our only hope for glory (Col 1:27). Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). May our “way” be the way of Christ. May our days do what pleases and honors the Lord, for He is good, and His ways are always best. They may not be easiest and often be a complete war with our fleshly desires or reasoning, but we can trust in our good God and the ways of His word.
Finally, in Proverbs 14:27, it says, “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.” A righteous respect and fear of God puts our flesh in its place. Who are we, oh man, that we should bring counsel to God? Romans 11:33-36 reminds us of this well: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” May we rightly and humbly submit to God in all things. May a right fear of Him keep us from, or as Solomon says it, “turn us away from the snares of death.” Brothers, I know that these truths seem so basic, but if you are honest, how often do we still get this wrong? How often do we still give way to our flesh and have a low view of God? One of our daily prayers for each other and ourselves should be a true and lasting fear of God and upright walk; that our testimony would be bright in pointing others to Christ, and we would flee of sin and temptation and the snares of death.
May God be glorified and many come to know Him through the testimony of our lives in Christ.