August 22nd 2018 – Proverbs 21:15-17

When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous
but terror to evildoers.
One who wanders from the way of good sense
will rest in the assembly of the dead.
Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man;
he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.

Proverbs 21:15-17

The AV's 'to do judgment' in 15 is translated 'When justice is done', and although this departs from the usual meaning of the phrase as an expression for right conduct, it suggests an important thought. It is sometimes said that it is not possible to run a business on strict Christian principles, because it would never pay. If, then, a man makes a conscience of doing justly and living honourable in business, it may be a source of dismay to those who have capitulated too easily to the 'necessity' of compromise, and a goad to their conscience. Perhaps this is the force of 16 - how easy it is in business life to wander from true integrity. We should look well at the consequences of such an attitude, as they are expressed in 16b. The theme may well continue in 17: the temptation to dishonesty and a double standard (15) is that of 'easy money' and a 'get-rich-quick' attitude to life. The difference underlined is that between hard-working honesty and integrity, which are their own reward, and the love of pleasure and ease that makes for improvidence. This should be borne in mind in an age when 'soak the rich' has become a blind for an attack on those who show reasonable prudence and frugality and who are prepared to impose on themselves a certain amount of discipline for the sake of a more secure future. One reason why the 'haves' have more than the 'have-nots' may be that the 'have-nots' blow what they have on colour TV and continental holidays instead of denying themselves to pay off a mortgage. You could get a pretty fair sized house for the price of forty cigarettes a day (man and wife) over a period of years!