Proverbs 16:17-19: The highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. NIV
Iam a watcher of people. When at the mall with my wife, I usually sit on a bench and watch people while she shops. If you take the time to watch someone's life they will eventually show you the content of their character, what is on the inside. Most people are good at putting on masks in public to disguise who they really are. But it doesn't take long before most will reveal their true selves.
Solomon tells his son in these verses in proverbs to guard his way and in doing so he would guard his life. The path that each of our lives is on will determine where we end up. I know that sounds shallow and simple, but it is the plain truth. Those whose character contains integrity and righteousness will avoid evil at all costs. They will not be associated with it at all. I have watched good people be dragged down and destroyed because of their associations. It is a tragedy but it happens This is why it is so important to guard our way, for in doing so we guard our life.
The next verse talks about pride. Another scripture in the New Testament categorizes all sin into three areas: the pride of life, the lust of the eye and the lust of the flesh. At the heart of most sin is the issue of pride. It was the source of the original sin of Lucifer that led to his expulsion from heaven and his destruction. It doesn't matter who has pride in their heart, destruction lies in their way. So guard your heart and your way to avoid the evil that lies ahead.
In God's eyes, it is better to have a right heart full of integrity and live in poverty than to enjoy riches and material possessions with the proud. That seems to contradict the standards of success. The world says that the more you have the more successful you are. God says the more integrity and godly character that you have, the more successful that you are. This is not to say that the wealthy are bad and the poor good. God says in his word that he wants us to prosper even as our souls prosper. To him, the inside is more important than the outside. We should take note of this and start looking on the inside of people more and seeing the true content of their character.
The Rev. Stephen Hammond is senior pastor of Bethel Community Church.