“There is a path that seems good to a man, but in the end, it leads to death” [Proverbs 14:12]. God is warning us through Solomon that decisions that seem perfectly fine to us could end up costing us dearly. Imagine you’re assembling flat-packed furniture, and rather than following the instructions, you decide to put the pieces together in the way you think they ought to fit. Chances are good that you’ll make a mistake which will cost you time and energy. However, this is nothing compared to the price we’ll have to pay for some of our choices.
Many of us are on social media groups where people espouse ideologies based on our cultural norms and experiences. On first examination, these ideologies sound wise and seem sensible. Invariably, some of us incorporate them into our way of life. Many of us also subscribe to the wisdom from well-meaning books on relationships, leadership, wealth, raising children, etc. Their authors might even provide enviable results as evidence that their philosophies work. Intrigued, some of us eagerly imbibe their truths and start living by their principles. Some of us have also learnt and adopted ideologies and cultural norms from sincere friends and family members, which are at odds with God’s precepts. Too often, we don’t question these ideologies because it’s all we know, or we trust their sources. We forget that human beings even when sincere can be sincerely wrong.
Sadly, many of us would rather consult human beings instead of studying the precepts of God. We spend more time reading books written by human beings while neglecting God’s word. How can that be profitable for us? Have you ever compared some of the cultural norms you subscribe to against Scripture? For instance, I grew up in a culture where raising children was a woman’s responsibility, while the man went out to work. I witnessed so many men unengaged at home, who barely knew their children because they spent endless hours working. Yet, the Bible specifically instructs fathers to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord [Ephesians 6:4]. The Greek word used for discipline encompasses the whole training and education of children as it pertains to their physical wellbeing, mental acumen and spiritual growth. How can a father do this if he isn’t actively involved in raising his children?
Similarly, many of us grew up thinking it didn’t matter how we treat people who are unkind to us. Yet, Jesus said: “do unto others as you would like them to do to you” [Matthew 7:12]. His words imply that how I treat others is independent of how they treat me and totally dependent on how I’d like to be treated. How many of us embody this principle? How about our attitude at work? God commands us to serve our employers with respect and sincerity of heart, just as we would serve Him [Ephesians 6:5-8], even cruel employers [1 Peter 2:18]. How many of us neglect this principle?
How about in our homes? In many cultures, men dominate their homes. Yet, Scripture says “be subject to one another out of reverence to Christ” [Ephesians 5:18]. The word translated subject implies to serve under another voluntarily. This means as a man, I must be willing to lay aside my ego, and be subject to my wife and my kids. Such an ideology is fatal to arrogance. It would also make men more servant-hearted like Jesus. Unsurprisingly, God’s principles are at odds with many of our cultural norms and ideologies. As a result, anyone truly abiding by God’s principles will stand out. Regardless, Christians will often experience enormous pressure to follow the way of the world. But Solomon says if we bow to that pressure, it will ultimately cost us. It’s not a curse, he was simply stating a fact because we’re extremely vulnerable outside God’s will for us.
Jesus says unequivocally: “I am the way, the truth and the life” [John 14:6]. Therefore, if you’re not following His principles, you’re going the wrong way. Even if it seems profitable to you presently, it’ll ultimately cost you. As such, evaluate the ideologies you subscribe to, are they based on God’s word? Evaluate the people you emulate to determine the source of the ideologies they advocate, no matter how wise they may seem. If their ideologies aren’t based on God’s word, distance yourself. Do what the Bereans did [Acts 17:11], your life depends on it. Paul says: “let God be true and every man be a liar” [Romans 3:4]. This means that anyone who speaks contrary to God attempts to make God a liar. I don’t know about you, but I’m not prepared to do that.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve written on the value of living by God’s principles. However, chances are that those who don’t see the value of these principles will continue to ignore them. Moses wasn’t as subtle as Solomon. Having taught the Israelites God’s precepts, he gave them a simple choice: “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” [Deuteronomy 30:19]. The gravity of our choices ought to make us yearn for God like a deer yearning for water [Psalm 42:1] and delight in His commands [Psalm 112:1]. Sadly, many of us are too busy pursuing other priorities. Will we heed Solomon’s warning before it’s too late?
Once while teaching, Jesus said: “He who has ears, let him hear” [Matthew 11:15]. Time will reveal which path we chose, if we truly heard and applied God’s principles. As for me, I am determined not to wake up one day, having lived most of my life, regretting my choices. What about you?