The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath. (Proverbs 11:23 NIV)
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives. (Proverbs 11:30 NIV)
There is a switch in this chapter. Solomon had previously been comparing the wise with the foolish. In this chapter, most of the proverbs compare the righteous with the wicked, those who do good with those who do evil.
What is the desire of the righteous? I think it is to honor God and do the right thing. Jesus summarized righteousness by saying we are to love God and our neighbor. If this is our desire, then our focus will be on what is best for God and for others. Self will take a back seat and Solomon tells us that this will end well.
What is the desire of the wicked? I think it is to do whatever is thought or felt to be best for me. The Internet is filled with quotes justifying a “me first” approach to life. This is the culture we are surrounded by. Advertisers are continually selling their products and services by appealing to our selfish natures. Our expectations continually increase, and we are constantly disappointed when they aren’t meant. This leads to anger with those around us who are seen as preventing us from having our expectations met.
While we are surrounded by this how do we develop a desire for righteousness? I don’t think it is God’s will for us that we withdraw from the culture around us, but it seems impossible to develop a desire for God if we constantly immerse ourselves in it. One of the things we can do is to develop habits that intentionally shift our focus away from the culture and to God and His love for us. For me, this involves Bible reading and journaling (writing this blog).
We also mustn’t forget that God wants us to succeed in this and has given us His Holy Spirit to help us. He has also surrounded us with His family the church to support and encourage us. To think we are alone and our righteousness is all up to us is to fall into the “its all about me” trap.
For my grandchildren:
Desire God so that you can love the people in the world around you.