Proverbs 11:1-4 has some practical advice on how to live wisely and bring glory to God in our lives. It’s important when reading through Proverbs that we look for the larger principal being discussed rather than the specifics of the situation. The wisdom in Proverbs is applicable to all people, at all times, in all places.
The Abominable Balance
Proverbs 11:1 says “a false balance is an abomination.” Is God really that concerned about the balance or scale? No, because after all the scale is only a scale; it’s the person using the scale who is good or evil. God’s concern here seems to be with the wealthy and powerful exploiting the poor and powerless. God expects those who have to help those who have not.
Not only does a false balance steal from your neighbor, which is clearly not loving them cf. Leviticus 19:11, 18, but it uses a position of power to exploit them. God, being the most powerful being in the universe, has chosen to help those who are powerless to help themselves. The Lord expects the same from his people: that we would help those less fortunate or less powerful than we are.
In situations where someone else is powerless to help us, we see the trueness and pureness of our love for them. God helped us when we were sinners (Romans 5:8). We were powerless to help ourselves, and we certainly have nothing to give him in return for his mercy. Therefore, having received such gracious mercy from God, we ought to take the same mindset upon ourselves. This is what love does.
Humility and Wisdom
Proverbs 11:2 indicates that the humble will gain wisdom. It’s important that we don’t associate humility with the immediate gain of wisdom. You don’t automatically become wise the moment you do something humble. So what is the key factor here?
Prideful people tend not to listen. They think they know the best way and the only way to solve almost every problem. When somebody comes along with a new or different idea, the prideful person refuses to listen. People like this never learn and never gain new insight. You can’t teach somebody who already knows everything.
The humble person recognizes they have much to learn. They’re willing to listen and gain wisdom from others. In a classroom setting, students must have the humility to listen and learn from the person doing the teaching. It is only when humility leads our learning process that we can truly gain the benefit from instruction.
The Path of Integrity
Proverbs 11:3 says “the integrity of the upright guides them.” In other words, the person who has set their heart and mind to do the right thing already has their path laid out in front of them. Typically, people who do the right thing are those who chose to do the right thing before they were tempted. When we are in the middle of temptation, it is much more difficult to choose the right thing if we haven’t already made up her mind.
Additionally, our text says “the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.” We can see this is still true today. In our past election cycle, most people could see the “crookedness” of many of the candidates running for political office. This made them less than desirable in our mind, and we looked forward to their defeat at the polls.
Not only is this proverb true in a physical sense, but it is certainly true spiritually speaking. Crooked people will make the wrong choice when put into a tempting situation. The “inner bent” of their character will be their undoing when Satan places snares, traps, and pitfalls before them. If you want to know what somebody’s character is like, watch them when they are tempted. They will show you whether they are upright or crooked based on the decisions they make.
Truly Profitable Things
Jesus echoes the words of Proverbs 11:4 in his Sermon on the Mount. He told us that we cannot serve God and Mammon and we should be laying up spiritual treasure (Matthew 6:19-24). We have to make a choice what we will live for: God or the world.
Many people choose to spend their life gathering wealth and possessions. Repeatedly, the Scriptures remind us that when we die those things do not come with us. What we have spent our life gathering will belong to somebody else when we die. Even if we get to choose who gets our things, we do not get to choose how they use them.
Additionally, when we stand before God in judgment, he does not make divisions based on socioeconomic status. In Matthew 25, Jesus divided the sheep and the goats based off of their righteousness not their riches. If we want to be a lamb rather than a goat, then we need to make spiritual decisions now. We need to be those who decide to use our possessions to bring about the good we can do today instead of storing them up for “some time when we need them” tomorrow.
The book of Proverbs is full of practical information to help us live a godly, spiritual life. We must be those people who search and seek for God’s way to live. The principles we find in the book of Proverbs are applicable to our lives today, and are the only way that we can live a life that truly brings glory to our God and Father in heaven. My prayer is that this helps us all become more spiritual people so that glory abounds and increases to our God.