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Last week we learned that power can lead to corruption and absolute power can lead to absolute corruption. Exercising biblical wisdom can placate the fury of kings. It’s great to find favor with earthly kings, but it’s far better to find favor with the King of kings. As Christ followers we have a responsibility to passionately follow Him who is the source of perfect wisdom. Biblical wisdom is essential in making godly decisions in our lives. When we utilize biblical wisdom, we’ll utilize the incredible power of God and avoid absolute corruption. This morning, Solomon gives us a road map with better directions that Siri or Google.
Proverbs 16:17-19. Says, “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil;
He who watches his way preserves his life. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.”
Are you a map user? Most people like to know where they’re going. I recently took a drive with someone that still uses a Garmin GPS that mounts on the windshield. That technology was cutting edge 10 years ago. I still love looking at a paper map. If you have a smart phone, you have the technology that will prevent you from getting lost . . . if you use it. With your smart phone you can ask Google maps for directions and it will give you turn by turn instructions. You iPhone users can ask Siri (Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface) and she will tell you exactly how to get where you’re going. The problem with this technology is it gives you a very limited screen to actually confirm your route. Sometimes you need to see the bigger picture. That’s why it’s sometimes better to break out that paper map. You can see the entire route. That’s what Solomon is saying here. “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil.” If your view of the route is limited to a few miles of the roadway, you won’t see obstacles that might be in your way like toll roads or bridges. I know people that will not drive over bridges. Sometimes you need to pull back and see the whole road.
When you follow God’s road map, you will stay on the correct route and there will be no need to recalculate. That doesn’t mean there won’t be bumps, potholes, or bad weather. In reality, there won’t be detours either. The detours of our walk with Christ come as a result of our choices or the choices of others. When we choose to deviate from God’s directions, we get lost. We end up on a roundabout that we can’t navigate off of. In Des Plaines, we had a roundabout that was nicknamed suicide circle. When we deviate from God’s plan, we might end up on a toll road and we don’t have the money that allows us to continue on. When we decide to go our own way, we end up going the wrong way on a one-way street; we end up in the wrong lane to take an exit. Is. 35:8 says, “A highway will be there, a roadway, and it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for him who walks that way, and fools will not wander on it.” You notice Isaiah said fools don’t wander on the road. Sometimes you get lucky and find your way without a map, or you just happen to make a turn that puts you on the right road. Isaiah and Solomon both tell us to be intentional. We’ve been given the way to go, we just need to read the map and follow it. “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; he who watches his way preserves his life.” When you depart from evil, you preserve your life. In 13:3 Solomon said, “The one who guards his mouth preserves his life.” Now he adds when you watch your way, you preserve your life. All the secrets of life are contained in God’s Word.
Now for one of the most recognized verses in Scripture. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” Lots of people can quote the first part of the verse and it has become a mantra of sorts for people to avoid the sin of pride. Pride is on the list of things the Lord hates. Does this verse really mean what it says? What other possible meaning could there be? We’ve looked at pride several times in this study and it always produces results that are contrary to godliness. When pride is present, dishonor and unrighteousness typically follow. We need to look at the next verse because they’re really connected even though they can stand alone. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.” There are several principles in the passage that we can apply individually, but the two verses tell us something we probably have not considered in the famous pride goes before destruction verse everyone likes to quote.
Solomon tells us there is a correlation between pride and robbery. Do you find that curious? In Georgia, a person commits the offense of robbery when, with intent to commit theft, he takes property of another from the person or the immediate presence of another: by use of force; by intimidation, by the use of threat or coercion, or by placing such person in fear of immediate serious bodily injury to himself or to another; or by sudden snatching. If convicted, you could spend up to 20 years in prison. If you rob a person 65 or older, you’ll get a minimum of five years in prison. Solomon was not familiar with Georgia law when he wrote this. For him, robbery includes anything taken that does not belong to you whether it’s from a person or a house or a garage or Wal-Mart or anywhere. So how does pride factor in? People that take from others generally are not concerned with the rightness or wrongness. Maybe they think they’re above the law, they think they won’t get caught and even if they do get caught, they’ll somehow get away with it. The very idea of taking something that does not belong to you shows the self-centeredness of that individual and the indifference toward others. They want something and they’re going to take it. When this is done, destruction will follow. When you study career criminals, you see this played out. What they were so careful to do, they no longer do and they leave evidence behind. They get away with something over and over and they get sloppy. They talk to their friends; they brag about their misdeeds. That arrogance or haughtiness will lead to stumbling. Again, “It’s better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.” Lowly means low in status or importance and has a real life application – it’s a contrast between the proud and the humble. Ps. 138:6 says, “For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar.” Lu. 1:51b, “He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.” In the grand scheme of things, who are we really? In the hugely popular book, A Purpose Driven Life, author Rick Warren nails it in the opening line: “It’s not about you.” It’s the issue we’re constantly facing, it’s the personal character trait that might just be the single most important factor keeping us from being who God wants us to be. It’s not about us and where we fit in, it’s all about God.
God has provided us with the latest, up to date, accurate road map that offers a guarantee on finding the destination . . . if we’ll just use it. Staying on God’s highway will enable you to depart from evil. It doesn’t mean evil will be eliminated from your life, but it won’t take hold of you because you evaluate everything from God’s perspective. Solomon tied the dreadful sin of pride with robbery – an angle you may not have previously looked at. The prosperity of the thief is short lived, so thievery is not even an option for the Christ follower. Society tells us life is all about us, but that’s a deviation from God’s plan. Life here on earth is all about God and life in eternity is all about God.