PROVERB PRACTICALS EXCELLENT IS THE WAY, proverbs 12:26, audio
Proverbs 12:26, The righteous is more excellent, than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth him.
At first glance this proverb seems odd in that it tells me that if I am a righteous man I am more excellent than my neighbor.
I have been told since youth that I am not to think of myself as better than others for to do so is to lift myself up in pride and perhaps lord my supposed excellence over others whom I think may be less endowed.
But these thoughts should direct Bible students to dig deeper into the message of this proverb; to look at not only the beginning but the ending, for the ending talks about the way of the wicked.
With this in mind perhaps the beginning part of this proverb should lead us to talk about the way of the righteous in contrast to the way of the wicked.
It should also lead us to look at other translations of the Bible for unless God intervenes there is no way we can think of ourselves as more excellent than others for we all fit into the category of sinners.
For God has told us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
It is true that the righteous and the wicked are equal when it comes to the nature they inherited from Adam, but they become totally different when the Spirit of God enters the picture.
For when this transaction comes there comes a conforming to the image of Christ which always brings fruit bearing in their lives and because of this there is a love, a forgiveness and service that enters the picture.
So in order to get the full meaning of our proverb for today it is good at times to look at other versions of the Bible in order to understand Godís Word.
Now according to the New American Standard this proverb reads this way: Proverbs 12:26, The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, But the way of the wicked leads them astray.
The Amplified Bible for Proverbs 12:26 says this, The [consistently] righteous man is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked causes others to go astray.
New English Translation, the NET Bible which is filled with explanatory notes, reads: The righteous person is cautious in his friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Those explanatory notes of the NET Bible include the idea that the righteous person is careful to note the direction his friends are going for he observes or examines their way in order to offer help that they go in the right direction, thus preventing them from harm.
So the message of this proverb is that the righteous, and I use that term to describe believers, those born again by the Spirit of God, are not to think of themselves more highly than their neighbor but that they should be concerned and care about the direction their neighbor is going.
This is validated by the contrast that is given in the proverb for the contrast is between who cares about their neighbors more, the righteous man or the wicked man.
It is saying that the righteous man has a heart for caring for his neighbor contrasted to the wicked man who only wants to deceive and lead his neighbor astray using him for his own gain.
So the righteous man is not more excellent than his neighbor, he only cares more about the way his neighbor is going and has the wherewithal to help.
So this proverb is a contrast between the righteous and the wicked with regard to their ability to care as to their neighborís way, as to their neighborís going.
Jesus Christ has made it plain that he is the Way.
When He said this he not only meant that He is the way to the Father but he meant that He is the Way of life for those who believe in Him.
In other words Jesus Christ provides to those who have received him a way of life that is called a righteous way of life.
It is a lighted way, a superior way which when followed only brings good.
It is a Way that fits the Romans 8:28 verse that says: And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
So it is not that the righteous are more excellent than his neighbor it is that the way of the righteous is more excellent than the way of his neighbor.
Anything that the righteous have to give to his neighbor that is more excellent is because God gave it to the righteous in the first place.
So another way to phrase this proverb is this: The Way of the righteous is more excellent than his neighborís and therefore the righteous will provide honest guidance to him that will lead only to good, but the way of the wicked is dishonest and designed to lead in a direction that is far from good, in fact it is a way that will lead astray, with death as the ultimate destination.
So the key here is the relationship to God.
Being among the righteous always brings an ability to bring good to a neighbor for the righteous have an abundance of God given assets with which to help.
The righteous have an abundance about them that should move them to show generosity to others.
Jesus who is the Way, told his own, For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required.
So this is the way the righteous walk.
The righteous receive an abundance of grace and therefore the righteous are to share abundantly with others.
Note the pattern of Jesus himself while on the earth for whenever he left a place it was always a better place than when he first came for His way is perfect.
So righteousness is the answer, being in Christ is the answer if you are to provide honest guidance to your neighbor in contrast with the wicked who choose to refuse provision from God and therefore can only guide their neighbor toward destruction.
For being in the Way, the righteous live a conduct that is more excellent for the righteous are always aware that God sees their doings.
They have Christís love to move them to righteous acts and good works.
They are privy to Godís laws and heavenís wisdom given by Godís word and are able to see what is to come.
The righteous know their position, their condition, their status, is more excellent for they are of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.
They are among his own special people knowing they have been adopted as a child of God having access to the throne of God, through their Saviour, Jesus Christ.
They are given to see Godís disposing of the wicked and the destination of the path upon which the wicked walk.
Think about the righteous beggar in the bosom of Abraham versus the rich man who lifted up his eyes in hell.
The destiny of the righteous is always superior for they will be called to come up hither while the wicked will enter into the tribulation.
The righteous will realize the promise that Christ gave his
disciples for in his fatherís house are many mansions while there is no
place of comfort or peace provided for the wicked.
It is a path whose destination is assured.
The way of the wicked is a way that promises much but delivers little.
It is a dream world path that is built on sand, a path without foundation.
It is a path of deception promising the finest, but as Isaiah 44:20 tells us the wicked feed on ashes, A deceived heart has turned him aside; And he cannot deliver his soul, Nor say, ďIs there not a lie in my right hand?Ē
The way of the righteous is not always easy going, for God tells us that we may walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
But along the walk we know that He will always be with us to guide and lead to everlasting life.
For the path upon which the righteous are called is a righteous path, a path that God has laid out perfectly as the right path for it is the only path.
It is a narrow path, a path on which Godís character and Godís will has been imprinted.
God is always present on the righteous path.
Godís will is on every signpost of the path for every sign post directs righteousness.
The signposts are many and each reveal the will of God for the righteous.
We have read some of those signposts as we have studied Proverbs 12.
They read: love wisdom and instruction, be a good man, donít be moved from truth, have right thoughts, regard the life of your animal, till your land, heed counsel and counsel peace, deal truthfully, guard you lips, and be diligent.
And the path of the righteous is a blessed path, a path of blessings.
For as Proverbs 12:28 tells us, In the way of righteousness is life: and in the pathway thereof there is no death.
Death hangs over the wicked at all times.
It is always in their thoughts but to the righteous death is but a passage into the presence of God for to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
It is a blessed path for on the narrow path eternal life is already present.
The righteous man lives by faith in Christ and that faith brings him the ability to love his neighbor, to act for the benefit of his neighbor.
And in this relationship the righteous man will operate by unchanging principles of Godís word which will glorify God and bring good to his neighbor.
Walking the way of Christ is a walk of integrity, which provides him a stability and constancy which never comes to the wicked who are double minded and self-serving.
The righteous under the governance of Godís Spirit assume the position of Godís steward and act in Christís stead.
They see themselves as a part of the body of Christ who have been kept on Earth to serve as representatives of Christ.
The righteous are Ambassadors for Christ who beseech their neighbor in Christís stead to be reconciled to God.
His way is more excellent than his neighbor for he knows he serves the Living God, the God with whom he has to do for he knows that one day all will appear before Him.
Now his neighbor may be far more qualified in the ways of the world, he may have more education, he may have a higher intelligence and greater wealth but he does not have Godís Spirit, he does not have Godís guiding hand.
And because the righteous is in the Way of the Lord his counsel is more excellent than his neighbor and therefore the righteous man will provide honest guidance to him that will lead only to good.
but the way of the wicked seduceth (sedu-ceth) him.
Or as the New American Standard Version says it: But the way of the wicked leads them astray.
So in contrast to the righteous man the way of the wicked is dishonest and is designed to lead in a direction that is far from good, in fact it is a way that will lead astray, with death as the ultimate destination.
All ways apart from the Way of God, who is Jesus Christ, are on the way of the wicked.
For the way of the wicked is a way upon which all are seduced.
To seduce is to draw aside or entice from the path of rectitude (morality) and duty in any manner, by flattery, promises, bribes or otherwise; to tempt and lead to iniquity; to corrupt; to deprave.
It is very obvious that the world system is designed to function by seduction.
Paul made this clear when he wrote Timothy as recorded in:
1 Timothy 4:1, Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Our world in this modern age is full of seducing spirits who are assigned the duty to draw aside, to entice from entering the narrow path that God has presented through His Son Jesus Christ.
I remember it well when the mantra of the 1960ís broadcast to the young people was ďDo your own thingĒ which meant walk on a different path than your parents.
Break down the barriers and let nothing get in the way of doing what you want to do.
Cast aside the path of morality that is so binding and slavish.
Let the music be your guide, go with the flow of things, tear down the ancient landmarks for they only hinder your true self.
For this was: The dawning of the Age of Aquarius, with its promise of harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding, No more falsehoods or derisions, golden living dreams of visions, mystic crystal revelation, and the mind's true liberation so went the song.
This was the seducing, the enticing message of the wicked.
Draw aside from the past, liberate your mind from any thought of the narrow
and embrace the broad way upon which are the charms of the world just
awaiting your taste.
Give yourselves over to all carnal pleasures, live together and love together and sing each otherís praises together but ignoring the fact that each step takes them closer to the precipice at the end of the broad way.
The wicked are unable to see the superiority of the Way of the Righteous for they are seduced by sin and Satan who will lead them to an eternity in hell.
There is no common ground between the wicked and the righteous for there is no common ground between the paths on which they walk.
Proverbs 29:27 says, An unjust man is an abomination to the just: And he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.
But even though there is no common ground our Lord Jesus Christ has told us to love our neighbor, though he or she be walking on the broad way.
And in the exercising of that love He has equipped us with all good things to bring to our neighbor for our way is excellent and our mission is to share that way, to share our Lord with all.
The righteous man is indeed more excellent, not because of anything within him of his own making, but only because Christ lives within and true love for our neighbor can be expressed in no greater manner than to tell the good news that Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Light, died for him
The righteous is more excellent, than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth (seduc-eth) him.