Proverbs 11:5

The righteousness of the blameless keeps his way straight,

    but the wicked falls by his own wickedness.

Proverbs 11:5 ESV

This verse provides a contrast between the righteous and the wicked, but not simply as a comparison of outcomes. Here, the writer goes to something more foundational, the heart. It is not the actions of the blameless that keep his way straight; it is righteousness. For the wicked, it is not the snares of the world that cause him to fall; it is the desires of his heart that cause him to become entangled in the snares of the world.

Proverbs 27:19 touches on this same idea. “As water reflects the face, so the heart reflects the person.”

Proverbs 11:2

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,

    but with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 11:2 ESV

This verse contrasts pride and humility. The result of pride is disgrace. Be careful not to dismiss this statement too quickly just because you know a proud person who has never been disgraced. Don’t forget that Proverbs has two realities in mind, the temporal and the eternal or the physical and the spiritual. Also, don’t forget that because no one seems to recognize folly, doesn’t mean it isn’t folly. For example, when a group of fools are hanging out, doing whatever it is fools do together, it is unlikely any of them will recognize the folly that is present among them. Thus, it is possible to disgrace yourself even when neither you nor those around you recognize the disgrace. Perhaps more importantly, pride disgraces us before a holy God.

The second portion reminds us of the connection between humility and wisdom. Wisdom produces humility. The implication is that those who are humble, those who gain wisdom, will not be disgraced.

Which do you prefer?

Proverbs 11:4

“Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,

    but righteousness delivers from death.”

Some may too quickly read past the implications of this verse because riches are something we think of in the here and now. However, this verse is speaking of the life to come. In contrast to the Egyptian idea of burying the dead with all the items they will need to pass over to and survive in the next life, the writer says, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath.” In other words, even if you could take it with you, it wouldn’t do you any good.

Rather than riches, the one thing that delivers us in the the next life is righteousness. This verse isn’t an argument against wealth, it’s an argument against the notion that anything but righteousness will be helpful when we depart this world. Second Corinthians 5:21 speaks to this topic: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The him in this verse is Jesus Christ. Thus, Jesus Christ made it possible for me to have righteousness; not just to have righteousness, though. He made it possible for me to “become the righteousness of God.”

What are you trusting in when it comes to the certain day of judgement?

Proverbs 11:1

“A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,

    but a just weight is his delight.”

Proverbs 11:1 ESV

A common thread throughout the book of Proverbs is integrity. Although the word integrity doesn’t appear in this verse the concept is certainly present. Notice the contrast between false and just.

Here, the writer uses imagery from the market. Imagine yourself as a day laborer, working some days, but not every day. The wages are meager at best, and with those few coins you enter the market to get some food for your family. You search diligently to get the most for the least because that is the only way you can feed your family.

This is the context of this verse. Of course, this is not to say that the rich are not within the scope of this verse, but a false balance that unfairly increases the price of necessities by pennies will not destroy the rich. A few extra pennies, though, may decimate the poor.

Readers should extend this verse to themselves. Do not say, I don’t work in the market, so this doesn’t apply to me. Integrity matters to God. Thus, it should matter to us, regardless of where we work.

How are you guarding your integrity?

Proverbs 11:3

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.”

Proverbs 11:3

The book of Proverbs typically communicates through contrasts. Here, the contrast is between the upright and the treacherous. Notice that the upright are guided by integrity, while the treacherous are guided by crookedness.

The first thing we might want to do when meditating on this verse is a self-exam. What characterizes my life more, integrity or crookedness?

Admittedly, a self-exam like this is difficult because people tend to evaluate themselves more favorably than others might evaluate them. And by more favorably I mean less accurately. Because of the tendency toward self-deception it is difficult to recognize our own lack of integrity. But we must examine ourselves (honestly!) lest we find ourselves unwittingly on the road to destruction.

The word guide is interesting to me because I do a lot of tour guiding in Israel. And when I guide groups, my function is to lead them to various destinations. In this verse, guide can be used similarly. Here, we see that integrity guides the upright. But where does it lead them? The answer seems clear: to greater righteousness. Conversely, where does crookedness lead the treacherous? To destruction.

Where do you want to end up? As is common in Proverbs, the reader, stands at a fork in the road; one path leads to life, the other to destruction. Which path will you choose? Will crookedness guide you to destruction? Or will integrity lead you to righteousness? It’s your choice. But choose you must. Please choose righteousness.

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