Proverbs 4:18-19 The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.
There is a great deal of truth in these two verses, and it deserves a lot of thought and application. The first thing to remember is that this is talking about two lifestyles, not some individual actions. Doing a few good things doesn’t make you a righteous person, and tripping up doesn’t necessarily make you wicked. In that context, it’s easy to see that these things are a process, a journey, and that is where the contrast gets striking. Both types of people are moving. For the righteous person, it’s like setting out at daybreak. Things are pretty indistinct at first, so it helps a lot to have a guide who knows where you’re going. As the journey progresses, the light level rises so that you walk with more and more assurance, avoiding obstacles of various sorts with greater and greater success. In the full light of mid-day, the risks are at a minimum. The contrast with the wicked couldn’t be more stark. Things are so dark for them, they don’t even know what they’ve run into when they stumble or bark their shins. So what is the difference between the “righteous” and the “wicked?” Put simply, it’s heart attitude. A righteous person is seeking to follow God, and a wicked person is focused on their own desires and pleasures. At the start of a righteous person’s journey, that is, at the point they decide and commit to follow God, they don’t have much more light than the wicked person does. That’s because until they make that commitment, they are a wicked person too. However, with that commitment made, they find the light just keeps growing. Particularly at first, if they trip and find themselves face down in the mud, things can look as dark at times as when they weren’t seeking God. That’s when they need someone with a little more light to come alongside and help them up again. That’s why the New Testament is filled with instructions to encourage one another, forgive one another, and generally help one another along the way. After all, we’ve got a glorious Noon to look forward to!
As a pastor, my job is to come alongside, helping and encouraging those around me, but I must not think I’ve gotten to Noon yet myself. I am to share the light I have received, but never in pride. Likewise, I am to let those who are still completely in the dark know that light is available. There too I am not to come across as holier-than-thou, but as the saying goes, as one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. As I am faithful to do that, my way will keep getting brighter and I will keep leading more and more into the light.
Father, thank You for this clear word picture, and for reminding me of it this morning. Help me be faithful in the righteousness of Christ, so the devil won’t be able to trip me up with his dark lies. May I be effective in the power of Your Spirit in drawing others with me in Your path of light, so that the works of the devil may be torn down and many set free, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!