Proverbs 21:2-4 ESV
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the heart.
To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
the lamp of the wicked, are sin.”
The ways of the flesh may be right in the eyes of humans, who are flesh, but it is the Lord who examines the heart and who determines what is good and what is evil. For people can be deceived by their own fleshly desires. And they can convince themselves that evil is good or that good is evil, and that what they are doing, or what they are contemplating doing is good when it is truly evil. For they will often confuse lust with love when it isn’t love.
Humans have a way of justifying their own actions and of giving them good purposes when they aren’t good, when their flesh is craving something they want badly. And so they will find ways around the truth or create their own truth in order to do what they know is wrong, but without guilt, and without conscience. They will convince themselves that something isn’t sin that is sin because it makes them feel good or it satisfies a craving they have.
And then, perhaps as a way to compensate for the evil that they are doing, they will do good, like a good deed to someone, perhaps even to those they are sinning against, and this is intended as a way to rationalize away their sins or to ease their consciences or to convince themselves that they are doing good to that person and not evil. But what the Lord requires is righteousness and justice not good deeds to cover up for evil deeds.
Proverbs 21:6,8,10 ESV
“The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
The way of the guilty is crooked,
but the conduct of the pure is upright.
The soul of the wicked desires evil;
his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes.”
“Treasures” may or may not be things of material wealth. A “treasure” can be anything cherished, prized, or valued. So, it could be an extramarital affair or pornography or some secret way discovered to do evil which is accomplished by telling lies in advance, such as someone telling a lie ahead of time about where he is going to be or what he is going to be doing when it is a coverup for the evil that he is really plotting out to do.
But when the crooked decide to do evil, they spare no one in their way. They have no mercy for the ones they are sinning against. Their hearts are hardened. Their flesh consumes them and it rules over any sense of good judgment or mercy or kindness. But it will not go well for them in the end. Although they may portend righteousness and think heaven is secured them, they will pay eventually for their evil deeds.
But the truly righteous, who are living righteously and not just claiming Jesus’ righteousness over themselves, their conduct is pure, and it is upright. I’m not saying that any human is absolutely perfect, but the Scriptures definitely make a dividing line between those who make a practice of evil and those who make righteous living their practice. And it is those who practice righteousness who are righteous in God’s eyes.
Proverbs 21:15-17 ESV
“When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous
but terror to evildoers.
One who wanders from the way of good sense
will rest in the assembly of the dead.
Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man;
he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”
Those who are evildoers do not love justice because it means that they will be found out and that they will be punished for their evil deeds, so it is not a joy to them to find that others who are doing evil, as they are doing, are being caught in their evil, and that they are having to pay for their evil deeds. For it is too close for comfort. For they take comfort in the thought that they will not be caught and that they will not be found out.
These are definitely people who are wandering from the way of good sense, for they are addicted to and they are intoxicated to yielding to the sinful desires of the flesh. And so they lose all sense of good judgment when they yield to what their flesh is craving. And sometimes that lands them in “hot water,” and sometimes not, but if they continue on this course without genuine repentance, they will eventually die in their sins.
But justice is a joy to the righteous, for justice comes from God, and it is what is fair, reasonable, honest, and upright. Justice is integrity. It is dealing with other humans with fairness and kindness. It involves no cheating, lying, and stealing in order to feed the selfish desires of the flesh, but it looks out for what is in the best interest of others, and for what will benefit them in a way that is healthful physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Proverbs 21:24-26 ESV
“’Scoffer’ is the name of the arrogant, haughty man
who acts with arrogant pride.
The desire of the sluggard kills him,
for his hands refuse to labor.
All day long he craves and craves,
but the righteous gives and does not hold back.”
Those who are arrogant and prideful who are continually craving the sinful desires of the flesh, and who want what they want no matter who gets hurt in the process, will often scoff at those who are righteous, and who are living morally pure lives. But they won’t stop just at scoffing, but they will use gaslighting, trickery, and manipulation to try to turn the tables on the righteous to try to make them out to be the “bad guys.”
Those who are at liberty to be sluggards, whose hearts are bent in that direction, will go that way. They will fill up their lives and their days with what is totally useless, whiling away the time on what is meaningless, and on what is trash, and which benefits no one. For they are self-consumed, and they are primarily interested in what gives themselves pleasure and with controlling their own lives and with doing what feels good to them.
But the righteous, in contrast to the wayward and the sluggard, are those who are dedicated to doing what is right and to helping others, and to obeying the Lord in doing what he has called them to do. They have a sense of purpose and of meaning to their existence on this earth, and they know their calling, and they are following the Lord in doing what he says and to making a difference and an impact on others’ lives for the glory of God.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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