The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.
Like the previous proverb, verse 3 presents the connection between virtue and wisdom, and between sin and foolishness. We are often taught that to think we can maintain integrity in the business world, or academics, or whatever field is to be naive. Everyone else compromises or outright cheats; we must compromise our ethics if we are to keep pace, especially such teachings as in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
David Skeel’s book Icarus in the Boardroom, however, documents how the sins of greed and pride lead the brightest and most gifted astray. Men begin with startling success, only to crash, because their sins cloud their ability to see clearly the coming disaster that they set up for themselves.
When our priority is to do what is right and not “get ahead,” decision making becomes easier and the results more satisfying. After all, even if our decisions cause us to lose the promotion, the sale, or the game, all we have lost is temporal success. But what we gain in this life is more enduring – peace of mind, contentment, a good name, trust, etc.
But we must take this proverb to its ultimate conclusion. The treacherous will be destroyed at the Judgment Day. Whatever “success” they may achieve in this life will only gall them all the more in their condemnation. But the one who in integrity remains faithful to Christ and his teachings will be guided along the path of eternal life.
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