“Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of wicked intentions He will condemn. A man is not established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous cannot be moved” (vs1-3).
Righteousness is safe and peaceful, making us ready to meet God and prepared for our future. Righteousness, this gift of God, comes to us freely, but it also saves us completely. We trust the cross of Christ and what He did, and then we live by faith in Him, trusting Him to care for us completely and conform us to His will. Righteousness is always the path of blessing. We find God’s will, and then we live it out wholeheartedly, “not with eye service, as men pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph 6:6). The world may mock your submission to your husband or your loyalty to your wife; it may despise your obedience at work, or your bearing patiently with ungodliness hurled against you, but righteousness is the safe way to heaven and real joy. Righteousness, no matter what humans say, is the path that God will bless.
Listen here. Even if you’ve failed in the past, even if God comes to you in the gospel now, and you are in the middle of sin… if you believe then blessings WILL start for you (Matt 9:29). You will have God’s help to overcome sin’s consequences, and He will achieve in you the goodness promised (Jer 29:11). Don’t fret, if like Solomon, you are at the wrong place doing the wrong thing. God comes now and says, “What do you want? What would you that I should do for you?” Like Solomon, ask for wisdom, and righteousness will result, and you will be safe and possess eternal life. We read, “And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places. Now the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place… at Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” (1 Kings 3:3-5). The joy of Christ is for the taking. Choose righteousness. Know that it is the safest and best choice that you can make, and it is the only way to safely meet God.
Secondly, if you do well to others, blessing those who curse you, then your own mouth will be your safety in the Judgment (vs4-6). He says, “The thoughts of the righteous are right, but the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. The words of the wicked are, ‘Lie in wait for blood,’ but the mouth of the upright will deliver them”. God looks upon what we did in our life, knowing if it was of faith, and He rewards those who did right, because they believed on Christ unto fruitfulness.
What is the fruit of your lips? What do you say? If you love God, then you want to love people with your words, and if you can do this by the gospel, then you live wisely and shall never be punished. The grace that CHANGES our character is grace that saves, so watch over your language and tone, keep your patient and humble speech, and know that even though it requires restraint and prayer, and even though you must confess sins, it will be better for you to speak wisely and purely, than as a fool. What do you want? You want to enjoy God, live forever, and escape Judgment’s wrath? Then control your mouth. Don’t merely think, “I can treat people how I please because God is merciful”. Think, “God makes us merciful as proof that we’re His, and I trust Him for this grace, so that I can speak the truth in love. Jesus died for this, and He promises to give it”. Grace came from God to you – truthfully and lovingly – and grace comes from you to others by His Spirit, the same way.
Gracious lips are precious and SOUL-SAVING!
Finally, change is the result of the gospel, just like cleanliness is the result of a shower (vs7-10). He says, “A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel”. You and I come to Christ, continually filthy and evil, and He forgives us and gives us strength. We started out godless, and He saved us as sinners, freely, giving us eternal life by faith alone. Then, out of a pure heart and a good conscience, we bring forth the fruit of love, showing our salvation is real, as He commanded (1 Tim 1:5). This love is from a new heart that God’s made to believe the truth, and this love is newness of life in all believers. We WERE hateful and cruel (Titus 3:3-5). We walked in ungodliness and unrestrained passions. We did our own will. But now, we love what we hated, and we hate sin within. We follow the Lamb to the cost of our lives, and yet this isn’t a change in a few, but it is in everyone who is really saved. He doesn’t change a man’s head without changing his life, and the loveless man must be made gracious. The sinner must be sanctified, and the believer comes home a different person, having experienced mercy in the temple (Luke 18:14; Mark 5:19-20)!
Don’t forget that this is the end of grace: it is not a man cruelly scolding his family with the truth; it is a man graciously teaching them by word and example. We are to BELIEVE that we’re new creatures, and we’re to walk in this newness, never being happy until I treat people as they deserve (Matt 5:23-24). I’m not one who touched Christ but got no cleansing; I’m like the woman with the issue of blood, my disease is healed, and I actually go in peace. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction” (Mark 5:34). How can you be forgiven and not forgive? How can you be loved and not respond lovingly to others? It cannot be. The righteous man is different, all the way down to how he treats his dog. What about you? If you are changed, then you’ll want to change continually. You’ll want to glorify God, get grace to do it, and your character will manifest it in how you treat people – forgiving and asking forgiveness, speaking to them and treating them as one who’s obtained mercy from Christ and been commanded to love as the result.