29Fools who cause trouble
in the family
won't inherit a thing.
They will end up as slaves
of someone with good sense.
30Live right, and you will eat
from the life-giving tree.
And if you act wisely,
others will follow.
31 If good people are rewarded
here on this earth,
all who are cruel and mean
will surely be punished.
As children of God, we are people of hope.
We believe the God who created the universe has actually changed us when we accept Christ into our hearts, and that means we have the power to make good choices.
Using this example from Proverbs, we are no longer free to cause trouble or to be mean and cruel. In other words, we are not free to be wicked. The apostle Paul put it this way: “God paid a great price for you. So don’t become slaves of anyone else” (1 Corinthians 7:23).
Yet we sin. We all do it from time to time . . . sometimes our sins are visible, sometimes they are in our heart. The cost may be higher than we had ever considered. Consider this: when non-Christians see Christians sinning, what do they call us? Hypocrites. We bring the Church, our faith and our God into disrepute.
The writer of Proverbs says it doesn’t have to be that way. In the middle of the verses on wickedness, we are called to live righteously. And here’s the kicker: “And if you act wisely, others will follow” (v 30b).
Just as we can turn people away from God, we can draw them to God. Sometimes that’s hard to believe, especially if we have tried to be the best Christian possible and the people around us continue to reject God and maybe even reject us. I have known this pain.
This entire chapter in Proverbs implies we have a choice to make: God’s way or wickedness. No middle ground. That means we need to make our choices, and those around us can make theirs. We can all choose righteousness, because, through Christ, God gives us that power.
Remember . . . we are people of hope.
Dear Heavenly Father, You have infused us with your Holy Spirit. You give us everything we need to make good choices, and we pray that you would give us the faith to believe that. Help us to glorify you in those choices. In Christ’s name, Amen.