“It is nice what you are doing, but you need to be wise.”
Have you heard that before? Maybe even you have said it yourself.
Sometimes when someone begins thinking about putting themselves out for the good of others, there are individuals who will pretend to be looking out for their best interests and try to stop them by cautioning them to be careful. (Isn’t this actually what happened to Jesus in Mark 3?) The idea is that sacrificial love for the needy and hurting is a good concept, but it is a dangerous one.
To a certain extent of course we can understand those kinds of sentiments. After all, Jesus’ love for us did take him to the cross. We are living in a Genesis 3 world, the kind of world where Good Samaritans are sometimes robbed themselves even as they seek to help. I know even personally there have been times where I have known something was the right thing to do, but I wondered, is it really what is best for my family as if by pursuing right I would do harm to my family.
On the other hand, reading through Proverbs this week has reminded me that this kind of wise counsel is not nearly as wise as it sometimes sounds.
When Solomon tells us to be righteous in Proverbs he’s saying pretty much the same thing as Moses when he commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
In fact, one scholar defines righteousness in Proverbs as bringing about right and harmony for all in their physical and spiritual relationships. Another contrasts righteousness and wickedness in Proverbs by saying that the wicked advantage themselves by disadvantaging others, but the righteous disadvantage themselves to advantage others.
This is why when Solomon describes the righteous man he says things like, ‘the righteous man knows the rights of the poor…’ and ‘the righteous gives and does not hold back’ and he often contrasts righteousness with injustice and uses justice as a synonym to righteousness.
And what I guess I wanted to share with you is the fact that this kind of lifestyle is not only honoring to God, Solomon also makes it clear that it is good for you and it is good for your family. Of course, there are going to be difficulties in the righteous lifestyle. When you disadvantage yourself for the sake of someone else, there is well, a disadvantage. But, but, at the same time there are hundreds of advantages that come with sacrificially loving others. Obeying God’s law is not only the right thing, it is a sweet thing for you and for your family. Meaning, if you really want to do your family good, yes, you should put yourself out for the needs of the hurting.
Here are forty two different blessings I found in the book of Proverbs that Solomon says come from doing righteousness:
1. Righteousness delivers from death.
2. God does not let the righteous go hungry.
3. Blessings are on the head of the righteous.
4. The wage of the righteous leads to life.
5. The desire of the righteous will be granted.
6. The righteous is established forever.
7. The hope of the righteous brings joy.
8. The righteous is delivered from trouble.
9. The one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.
10. The offspring of the righteous will be delivered.
11. The desire of the righteous ends only in good.
12. The righteous will flourish like a green leaf.
13. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.
14. The righteous is repaid on earth.
15. The root of the righteous will never be moved.
16. The root of the righteous bears fruit.
17. The righteous escapes from trouble.
18. No ill befalls the righteous.
19. In the path of righteousness is life.
20. Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless.
21. The light of the righteous rejoices.
22. The sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.
23. The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite.
24. The wicked bow down at the gates of the righteous.
25. Righteousness exalts a nation.
26. In the house of the righteous there is much treasure.
27. God loves him who pursues righteousness.
28. God hears the prayer of the righteous.
29. Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.
30. Grey hair is a crown of glory gained in a righteous life.
31. He who condemns the righteous is an abomination to the Lord.
32. To impose a fine on a righteous man is not good.
33. It is not good to deprive the righteous of justice.
34. The righteous who walks in his integrity – blessed are his children after him!
35. To do righteousness is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
36. Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness and honor.
37. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice.
38. Do no to violence to the righteous man’s home for the righteous falls seven times and rises again.
39. The righteous are as bold as a lion.
40. When the righteous triumph there is great glory.
41. When the righteous increase the people rejoice.
42. The wicked man is ensnared by his own sins, but a righteous man sings and rejoices.