8 November 2007

Proverbs 15:8-11, 24-33

"The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is to his delight. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but he loves the one who pursues righteousness". (v.8-9)


Does this passage make its contrast in much too stark and simplistic terms? Here, as elsewhere in the book of Proverbs, people are described as being either 'wicked' or 'upright/righteous'; does this ring true to our observations of human character and behaviour?

There are saints around, people whose unselfish living and love of God put us to shame. And there are some people who seem not to have a single good quality and who do serious harm to others. But most people are a mixture of good and bad, behaving well on some occasions and not so well on others. If we are any good at reading our own lives we will know this is how we are.

The writer of Proverbs would no doubt have acknowledged the truth of this too. But he wants us to recognise the importance of choice. He knows how easy it is for us to shrug our shoulders and say, "Well, that's how I am. It can't be helped".

Well, sometimes it can't, but often it can, and Proverbs points us to this important fact. To pursue righteousness is to actively seek to discern and follow God's way in our daily conduct. Repentance is not just feeling sorry for our bad conduct; it is about acting differently in the future.

The writer of Proverbs encourages us to make that choice not just once in our lives, but all the time. And, he goes on to say, we make the choice effective when we are willing to be instructed by God's wisdom.

To Ponder

How, as a society, do we judge between good and evil behaviour when there are competing moral codes?

Think of one way you can pursue righteousness by actively discerning and following God's way in your daily conduct. Try to put that into action in the next few days.

Bible notes author

Revd Michael Townsend

Michael Townsend is a Methodist minister. He has served in a variety of posts and is currently Superintendent of the Grimsby and Cleethorpes Circuit.