“Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe. Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose words are twisted. These men turn from the right way to walk down dark paths. They take pleasure in doing wrong, and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil. Their actions are crooked, and their ways are wrong. Wisdom will save you from the immoral woman, from the seductive words of the promiscuous woman. She has abandoned her husband and ignores the covenant she made before God. Entering her house leads to death; it is the road to the grave. The man who visits her is doomed. He will never reach the paths of life. Follow the steps of good men instead, and stay on the paths of the righteous. For only the godly will live in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it. But the wicked will be removed from the land, and the treacherous will be uprooted.” – Proverbs 2: 11-22
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.
If you think about that you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett
Years ago, Steph’s grandfather was accused of some things that he was innocent of. The gossip was making its rounds and everyone assumed they knew what happened. However, when confronted about it, he simply stated that “my good name would clear itself”. What a profound example of integrity and faith. His actions are the embodiment of Proverbs 28:1… “The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.” As fast as the word spread through the community years ago, today we have to worry about our reputations online as well. Solomon (or the one who taught Solomon these proverbs) is imploring his child here to seek after wisdom in all areas of their life and not wander into sin.
In this passage, Solomon warns about 2 particular areas to avoid. The first is to avoid “evil people”, and the second is to avoid the “immoral woman”. Solomon tells us that we can identify these people by their actions and their words. Remember, Proverbs 1:7 tells us how to continually seek wisdom (“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”) Once we have in our hearts a reverential fear of God, we should seek to fill ourselves with his word. A little earlier in chapter 2, verse 4 tells us to “Search for [wisdom & understanding] as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.” There’s nothing wrong with a morning devotional scripture to set your mind on the Lord or a short reading before bedtime. Please don’t misunderstand me here, but I believe that if we are to truly be seeking God’s wisdom (as he is the source of it), we need to be awake, alert and ready to spend the time needed to search it out. Devotions are a good start, but we must continue to drill until we find the true nuggets of spiritual gold we are seeking.
I say all of that to make this point: When we’ve spent the time seeking God’s wisdom, we can so much more easily avoid the “evil people” and “immoral woman” Solomon speaks of. Those around us physically and those we encounter online may choose to have their words twisted in such a way that it sounds enticing and good, but there’s only venom and deceit behind them. You don’t have to look very far to find those who take pleasure in doing wrong, and you especially don’t have to look very far to find immoral people and media. The internet is literally with us almost everywhere we go today, and we must make wise choices such that our reputation and good name is not tarnished. Solomon makes very clear the consequences of not taking his lesson to heart in verses 18 and 19… “Entering her house leads to death; it is the road to the grave. The man who visits her is doomed. He will never reach the paths of life.” Whether it’s a physical death brought about by a jealous spouse, the death of a marriage or relationship, the loss of trust between family and friends or the certainty of having sin in your life… by not choosing to heed Solomon’s words here and seek after God’s wisdom will cost you dearly!
Thankfully, Solomon goes on in this passage to state that we are to follow the steps of good men instead. If we are to stay on the paths of the righteous, we need to seek out those who have a good reputation. After we have gained life experiences and spent time in the word, we grow discernment towards what and whom we choose to surround ourselves with. We can much more easily see the motives behind the words and actions of others. By gaining discernment, we can see the difference between righteousness and evil where others can’t. Over time, we should seek to become the good men (or women) that Solomon speaks of for others to follow. The choices that we make will ultimately earn us our reputation, and as a Christian, we should be modeling Christ’s behavior in both word and deed. When accusations come your way, will they be a reflection of your character or will your good name and reputation be solid and honoring to the Lord?