Words to live by | Online journal of Marc Heriot

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Proverbs 12:12 What do I want?

The wicked covet the catch of evil men, But the root of the righteous yields fruit. Proverbs‬ ‭12:12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬‬

Or, another translation:

The lawless man craves the prey [gain] of the wicked, But the root of the righteous is enduring. Proverbs 12:12 (Rotherham)

Man craves. I see and I want. Desire combined with my values create the context in which I live. What is it that I want? I endeavor to look in the mirror every morning and have an answer to that question. Whether or not I acknowledge it, what I want, or often what I need, propels my life forward — my behavior every day. It’s so much better to be thoughtful and intentional about that desire than let an impulsive, needy grab for something erupt unexpectedly to the shock of others (and myself!)

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges says: There is perhaps an intended contrast between the restless and often fruitless activity of the hunter with his net, and the calm, stedfast fruit-bearing, as by a natural process, of the firmly-rooted tree.

The “catch” or “gain” that Solomon speaks of is a real thing. It’s an increase. If you are an outdoorsman, there is something very exciting about the hunt then the success of the kill. In a way, it is like a drug and when I am successful, the feeling of euphoria from my accomplishment is my opioid. This increase, whatever it is, is material. Temporary. Not self-sustaining. Gained by cunning or method. Or blackmail or deceit. But when the ends justify the means, and there is no discrimination about how I make my gain, one thing is certain… loving God, valuing his ways, aligning with his kingdom, fellowshipping with my creator, is NOT my desire.

On the other hand, living with a kingdom value, loving the king first, honoring and acknowledging my father in all I do is something I was born to live out. The provision that comes from kingdom values is steady, predictable in it’s season, constant year after year, deep — pulling from the nutrients of the earth and the history of those that have preceded me. It does not provide the narcotic-like high that the hunt provides, nor the manic low that failure brings.

The Pulpit Commentary says: The root supplies the sap and vigour needed for healthy produce. Without any evil devices or plotting, the righteous gain all that they want as the natural result of their high principles.

There are two natures inside of me; one pulls me to the excitement of the new, the rush, the catch, the unconventional, without regard for my values, laws, or the goodness others deserve. The other reminds me to be steady, drink deeply, skip the shortcuts, learn from those who have gone before, and prioritize relationships. The conclusion makes me laugh — kingdom life sounds like it may be drab, with no fun or adventure when I put it in these terms. But then I remember, God created fun. He leads us on paths that have spectacular views, incredible discoveries, and increase and provision — but in a context in which he provides great safety and care even in hell-raising adventure.