The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.
You should be picking up a theme by now: to be righteous is to be wise, which leads to success; to be wicked is to be foolish, which leads to failure. Because the focus of the righteous is to do what is right, God will deliver them; also, the focus on doing right gives them clarity about reality and discernment into wisdom. The wicked on the other hand, have distorted views as to what is real – about themselves, about what is of real value, about how to achieve goals, etc. Thus, inevitably their ways lead to failure. Even if they achieve the goal of wealth, they become poor in the things that really matter – good name, loving relationships, productive lives, etc. – and more often than not, they lose their wealth.
Let’s say a colleague at work is competing with you for advancement. If “wicked,” he will choose foolish means of fulfilling his lust for wealth – flattery, brown-nosing the boss, lying about you and about himself. He may work longer hours, sacrificing relations with his family. Because your concern is to follow the righteous path of Christ, focus on performing your job to the best of your ability, encouraging the performance of your colleagues, and being truthful and loving in Christ. More likely, you will advance because of the respect you have earned.
But, even if the colleague advances, he is only setting himself up for a greater fall as he grows even more blind to where his conduct is leading him. You, on the other hand, though you may not advance as you desire, are developing the habits of a peaceful, productive life. Lust clouds good thinking; righteousness clears the clouds away.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By D. Marion Clark. © 2022 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org