As I have got older, I have realised just how much wisdom there is in some of the sayings I heard from my parents when I was younger. These pithy sentences contain nuggets of truth that help us find our best path through life. A couple that I always thought rang true are: ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ and ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’. But the one that really went deep with me was this: ‘Honesty is always the best policy’. I first heard it long before I became a Christian, but it’s been a simple strategy that I’ve attempted to live my life by ever since.
The book of Proverbs is full of such sayings and today I noticed in Proverbs 10:9 confirmation of that boyhood instruction: ‘The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.’
The way that proverbs often work is to use a biblical technique of comparing one way of living with its counter in order to make an inspirational point about the best way to live. This technique appears widely in the Bible, but especially in the book of Proverbs. In effect, it affirms that as we choose how we live our lives, there are good ways to live and not such good ways.
Of course, the thing with these proverbs is that they don’t promise that such a dynamic will always be the case. In this one, sometimes those who take ‘crooked paths’ will get away with their wrong deeds: at least in this life. Many of us may have experienced the cost of that reality upon our own lives.
Nevertheless, proverbs tell us the wise ways to live and remind us of what generally happens in life. And, generally, if we act with integrity and honesty, we can walk securely because we have nothing to hide. Alternatively, the one who takes crooked, or dishonest, paths is in danger of being found out. They are found to have acted wrongly because their wrong deeds so often do, eventually, come to light.
I suspect that the wise sayings I heard as a boy aren’t so popular today, but the wisdom of Proverbs offers timeless truths that are just as relevant to living wisely today as they were when they were recorded all those centuries ago. I wonder if you have a favourite?
However, while it’s one thing to read these often amusing anecdotes, it’s quite another to be wise enough to live by them. But the more we can imbibe this wisdom into the way we live, the better our lives are likely to be. Or, as the writer of Proverbs himself says: ‘Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin’ (Proverbs 10:14).
Prayer: Dear Father God, thank You for Your glorious, multifaceted word to us. Thank You that You teach us the best ways to live our lives. Thank You that in Proverbs we can learn so much to help us walk the straight path and avoid crooked paths. Help me today to live wisely and well and make integrity my guide. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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