In our hearts we know we should be righteous. Nevertheless, the wicked and cheaters among us often seem to prosper.
Proverbs 4:18-19: “The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like total darkness.
They have no idea what they are stumbling over.“
The Way of the Righteous
The way of the righteous is described as an ever more beautiful path. Unfortunately, life often does not appear to agree. We see the noble torn down the moment they make the slightest mistake. Jealousy and hatred often seem to surround the righteous like vultures. Even though we may put the moral on a pedestal, it sometimes is only so they can fall further.
However, this brilliant life description is aimed more at the liver of it than the observer.The righteous will tend to be more fruitful and happy than those that are not. Think about the effort that goes into spinning lies or covering your tracks. When that is not an issue life becomes much more enjoyable. Many sources of stress do not apply. Each day is another challenge just as it is for the Wicked. However, the righteous are not worried about yesterday catching up to them.
The Way of the Wicked
None of us consider ourselves evil. At least no one I know. In that case, we should probably consider our actions. Not everyone is righteous so let’s look at how we might be “wicked.” I think most wickedness starts small. We tell a little lie or excuse a little indiscretion. As an example, we look at stealing office supplies.
I am going to stretch this one a little, but it is just an example. The theft of office supplies starts with a pen and some paper. Since that is not noticed, it is not hard to move to notebooks, a stapler, maybe even printer ink. So far so good. Over time that can add up to a lot, maybe even hundreds of dollars. Now let’s assume that the high cost of office supplies to the company gets noticed. When confronted, what happens? Do the lies start? Do we imply that some other person (named or unnamed) was stealing? How far do we go to save our job?
As time goes by, we tend to get comfortable with a situation. Thus, we accept larger differences from the norm. What is one more cigarette to a pack a day smoker vs. one that smokes once or twice a year? Our little choices and allowances start down the way of the wicked. If we do not watch out, we may end up in total darkness.
Teaching Children this Wisdom
This is a proverb that is often seen as an underlying lesson in children’s stories. The way of the wicked always ends badly in these stories. The bad guys “get what the deserve” and any momentary success they achieve is crushed by the end of the story. Even stories of redemption have the “wicked” character regretting their time in darkness with the “righteous” having an overall greater enjoyment of life.
These stories and examples are everywhere. All you have to do is ask some questions about the kids’ thoughts on the actions and motivations of the “bad guys.” Ask why the hero chose the path of the righteous and what the villain expected from their efforts. When your child makes a wrong decision, you can always go back to these conversations and help them to see the wisdom of the path of the righteous.