The book of Proverbs has 31 short chapters which makes a perfect little nugget to chew on for each day of the month. Yesterday was the 25th so chapter 25 was the word I ate with my coffee.
Pretty much each chapter spends at least part of it's time contrasting the ways of the "wicked man" and the "righteous man" and the corresponding consequences of those ways. The wicked and the righteous have nicknames that are used interchangeably, the Foolish and the Wise. When you see the nature of the choices and the following consequences for those choices, it is clear which choices were wise, made by the wise and righteous man, vs. which choices were foolish... definitely not made with the guidance of God, by the wicked man.
There are some pretty funny things said in this book written so long ago regarding the nature of man... things not changed by time. Take Proverbs 25:24 for example. "It’s better to live alone on the corner of the roof than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home". Or “It’s better to eat veggies in a house filled with love than to eat steak served by someone who hates your guts.” (Proverbs 15:17) Or, this one from Proverbs 11:22 “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a gorgeous woman with no sense.” ... but I digress...
Back to chapter 25. I read along taking in both the common sense and the godly wisdom and looking for the thing that was going to jump out at me and be my "take away" for the day. Verse 26 caused me to pause and ponder. "Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked". I got out my pen and paper to think about this verse with my hand.
Keeping in mind that this is not about a self-righteous man. The righteous man is a person who is made righteous by God, having received and accepted the gift of forgiveness and salvation given by Jesus at the cross. God simply takes off his Righteous t-shirt and puts it on us and says "My righteousness is now yours".
There is so much potential for good within the righteous and wise man. But this verse points out that if he allows wickedness in, that potential is lost. Rather than being a spring of fresh water or a clean, cool well, this muddied water is useless. It cannot quench thirst. It cannot wash clean.
I began to think about the kind of things that can muddy our waters. My thoughts focused in on situations and circumstances around me lately. Ok, here's one... A way that we can muddy or pollute our waters is by justifying or reasoning why feeling or speaking or acting in some unsavory manner is "totally natural" or "only human". Yes. Our way of doing things is only natural and human. But if we have the righteousness of Christ IN us, we should be heeding a higher calling... a better quality way that is super-natural and in most cases seems illogical in the eyes of those who aren't looking to please God. ...Like being slapped on one side of the face and presenting the other cheek to the Slapper. Or, saying a prayer and speaking a blessing over someone who has done you wrong. Definitely not natural. Righteous.
Another way the debris of wickedness sneaks in is by way of the ears. I am down for sharing this example from my personal life because I triumphed over the wicked Tempter in this just the other day. That makes it easier to speak about than if I had caved to it!
I was with someone who dropped a very juicy dollop of gossip. Thankfully, in wisdom, not foolishness I did not pick it up and then be dirtied by my own thoughts and words. It felt like a victory to walk away and just leave that comment sitting there alone and unentertained.
Two other short examples I thought about were: the lack of integrity one can have by proclaiming the victory and freedom found in Christ while living in any form of "captivity" to something... a philosophy, a substance, a habit, feelings, guilt or shame. People hear how we live. Maybe even more than what we say.
The last way I thought about how we can allow our waters to be polluted is when we entertain any thoughts of self-pity. The thoughts become attitudes and words that shape us and becomes the substance of what flows out of us. All that self-iness really makes our waters unattractive, unrefreshing and worthless.
"Giving way to the wicked" doesn't begin at the point of committing some heinous crime or sin. It begins with one little thought or word that just leaves the door open, or ears open or eyes open where it would be wiser to be kept closed to keep out the debris.
The "righteous man" has the fount of Living Water within him. The ability to spill out the water of Life onto a dry and desolate, thirsty world is an unbelievable, high honor and calling. Those waters must be safeguarded. The dirt and debris of the world around must be kept out.
Lord, flush me clean with your living water and then fill me to the brim that I would act worthy of the label of righteousness you have given me. Spill out and flow out and bring your cool, refreshing Spirit to anyone around me who is parched and needs a drink.