5The thoughts of the righteous are right, But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. 6The words of the wicked are, “Lie in wait for blood,” But the mouth of the upright will deliver them. 7The wicked are overthrown and are no more, But the house of the righteous will stand.
The Proverbs direct us in the way of wisdom and teach us what it is to imitate the character of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Today our passage contrasts the actions and rewards of the righteous and the wicked.
On the one hand are the actions and rewards of the wicked. Their counsels are deceitful. They endeavor to trap others and take advantage of them. They believe that a meaningful life is found in demanding from others and getting what they can for themselves at any cost. They lie, they murder, they steal, they destroy – anything to increase their share and ensure their safety, security, or advantage. But those who live this way reckon without the God who rules over all – for they shall be overthrown and destroyed. Their works and their houses shall come to an end. Though they may flourish for a time, like the grass of the field, they shall soon wither and die.
On the other hand are the actions and rewards of the righteous. The righteous are those whom God in His grace has united to Christ by faith and who walk in the power of the Spirit. They live for love of God and man. Consequently, their thoughts are right and they endeavor to deliver the innocent from harm. They believe that a meaningful life is found in sacrificing for others – for God, for their spouses, for their children, for their friends, even for strangers. They furnish rest, they speak truth, they give honor, they preserve life – anything to glorify their God and to bless their family and neighbors. They remember that there is a God who sees, who knows, and who watches over the ways of His people. Hence, their house will stand for their God is able to make it stand even when wicked men temporarily tear it down.
It is fitting that we consider this contrast between the righteous and the wicked on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. “Terrorism is an unrighteous use of violence. While even just uses of violence use terror ( generically understood) to break the will of the opposition, terrorism involves deliberate acts of violence or threats of such violence against those innocent of wrongdoing. It intentionally targets the innocent to accentuate fear and manipulate change; in addition, it is frequently employed to advance the cause of false religions. But the Living God defends the innocent, hates those who love violence, and opposes those who labor to establish the worship of false gods. Terrorism, therefore, is unjust and its practicioners shall face the wrath and curse of Almighty God in this life and the next.”
Yet this contrast between the righteous and the wicked not only applies to Islamic terrorists, it also applies within God’s church. There have been wicked men and women in the church of God. So what type of man or woman are you? Are you thinking and plotting and doing good for your neighbors? Or are you thinking and plotting and doing harm? The Apostle Peter tells us that Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38) – so do you? Are you searching for opportunities to use your gifts and abilities to bless others? Or are you using them to deceive and wound and destroy others? Or are you perhaps lazy, squandering the gifts that God has given you or using them only for yourself? For “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer” (Prov 18:9).
Reminded of this contrast between the righteous and the wicked – that the righteous man imitates Jesus who did not merely attend to His own interests but also to the interests of others – let us confess that we have often been wicked – deceiving others for our own advantage and even causing harm to others – and that we are in need of God’s forgiveness and empowering grace to live righteously. And as we confess our sin, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin