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God’s Word for You

Proverbs 29:25-27 The path of the upright

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, January 2, 2021

25 Fear of man will bring a snare,
    but whoever trusts in the LORD will be safe.

The fear of man drives him into the devil’s snare the way dogs flush birds for the hunter’s shotgun. This fear turns up in various forms, but the end is always the same: The Christian is tempted not to act like a Christian and to abandon his faith. The many reasons why don’t matter to the devil. They are only tools for him, like a tackle box full of lures and bait. If one doesn’t work, another will. It’s only a matter of time for the devil to drive a sinner to sin.

One fear is the fear of public opinion. The more Christians and Christian priests and ministers are brought to their knees as they are caught in various sins, the more other Christians will feel embarrassed to talk about their faith in a public way. The ministry of the gospel has had its reputation tarnished, but we have to remember that ministers of the gospel are flawed, fallible sinners, sinners who sin, and a minister needs the gospel of forgiveness as much as anyone else. The world doesn’t see it that way. As we will see in verse 27, the world hates the path of the righteous, and the world is only too willing to tear apart anyone who wants to be on the righteous path, as if to say, “How dare you!” Underlying this is the secret knowledge that is no secret to anyone: the path of the righteous is impossible to walk with perfection.

That brings us to the imperfect creatures who walk God’s path. When any Christian stumbles into sin, it hurts the body of believers. The world judges by its own standards: “He’s supposedly a Christian, but the cop pulled him over just like the rest of us.” The world demands perfection of the godly and responds by pursuing a godless imperfection. Therefore the Christian is beset with fear: If I have been forgiven by Jesus, what will the world think of me if I fall into a sin? And shouldn’t I admit that the “if” should be “when”? How can any Christian possibly fail to sin, since “every inclination of man’s thoughts are only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5)?

Because of these fears, this proverb does what so many do not: It preaches the gospel as well as the law. In fact, this sentence: “Whoever trusts in the Lord will be safe,” is the gospel message for every proverb that cuts at our hearts. It is faith in Christ that lifts us up, binds up our wounds, covers over our sins, and compels us to live for Jesus.

26 Many seek the face of a ruler,
    but it is from the LORD that man gets justice.

The “face” of a ruler is an audience with him, a chance to get justice. This is simply a proverbial response to David’s psalm: “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone. My hope comes from him” (Psalm 62:5).

27 To the righteous the dishonest are an abomination,
    but the upright path is an abomination to the wicked.

This is simple to understand on the surface, but we could easily add two true conclusions: The upright path is an abomination to the wicked, no matter who walks it. Therefore they hate the right path when the righteous are on it, but they hate the right path when they themselves happen to stumble close to it. They make fun of right living, as if to point out that they would never have chosen the right path on purpose. The second conclusion is this: that the wicked are always wrong when they call the right path an abomination, and the righteous are always right when they call the wicked or dishonest an abomination. This is part of what the Holy Spirit means when he commands us to mark and avoid those who cause divisions among us (Romans 16:17). Why? “Because such people are not serving our Lord Jesus, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people” (Romans 16:18). Put your trust in Jesus Christ alone. He will guide you on his Father’s path, the path of the upright. He will send his Holy Spirit into your heart to build and preserve your faith. He will plead with the Father to forgive your stumbles and falls. And in the end, he will bring you safely home to heaven to live with him forever in the Paradise of the Upright.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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