“One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth. In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.”
As we saw earlier in verse 15 of this chapter of Proverbs, the word used for “way” is the Hebrew derek, and it means road, path, direction, way, course of life. Thus when Proverbs speaks of “the way,” it is speaking of the path or course of action chosen by a person or group. It is the way a person chooses to live their life. It is both a way of believing and a way of behaving.
Derek appears again in this passage. Solomon returns to this word repeatedly to make sure we are crystal clear: There is a path that leads to success, and there is a path that leads to failure. There is a path that leads to life, and there is a path that leads to death.
Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7.13-14)
The difficulty of the narrow gate and the hard way is not because it requires great effort. The difficulty is because it requires great humility. The gateway to the kingdom of God is humbling yourself before the cross of Jesus. It is confessing your sin and accepting the historical fact that Jesus—the Son of God—died on the cross to pay for your sin.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2.24)
Many people want forgiveness and the blessings of Jesus, but not everyone is willing to bow before him, acknowledge their sin, and accept his Lordship in their life. They want what Jesus does for them, but they don’t want what Jesus seeks to do in them and through them.
They want Jesus as savior, but they don’t want him as lord. They want salvation, but they also want to continue following the path of the world. Note that Jesus said that those who follow the easy path of the world “are many,” and that those who actually follow him “are few.”
Sobering, isn’t it?
Another truth this Proverb teaches is that those who follow the path of rightness are a guide to others, whereas those who follow the world’s path lead others astray. Again, here are the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5.13-16)
May we be light to the world, and not darkness. May we always retain our saltiness, and be a taste of the kingdom to the people around us.
Trust God and follow the path.