The Roots of RuinFr. Barnabas Powell
One of the human parables of every human culture on earth is the warning against pride. As the scriptures declare ” pride goes before a fall.”
And it seems that each human tribe has a multitude of stories that prove that truth over and over again. Once such story from my own Southern family was the story of the man in my grandparent’s town who strutted around town in a fine suit, and seemed to have the world by a string. He was always in church on Sunday morning and seemed to make a show of putting his money in the collection plate. Of course, he ingratiated himself with all the “right” people in town and Mawmaw told us that this man lived in a fine house and drove a big car, but they never saw him going to work. In fact, no one around town could remember ever hearing about the man doing anything to earn money. It was a mystery until one day some officers from another state arrived to arrest the man. It seems he had swindled a similar small town out of thousands of dollars in another state and it finally caught up to him. All his facade of respectability disappeared in an instant, and so did all his ill gotten gain!
Look at our lesson today in Proverbs 12:8-22:
A man is commended according to his good sense, but one of perverse mind is despised. Better is a man of humble standing who works for himself than one who plays the great man but lacks bread. A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel. He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits has no sense. The strong tower of the wicked comes to ruin, but the root of the righteous stands firm. An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous escapes from trouble. From the fruit of his words a man is satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent man ignores an insult. He who speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure for ever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan good have joy. No ill befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble. Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight.
As usual, our writer of Proverbs employees the “back and forth” method to compare and contrast the path of foolishness and ruin as opposed to the path to peace and wisdom. And his stark contrast drives home the roots of ruin of a life that ignores wisdom and chooses foolishness instead.
Notice the Root of Ruin begins in the Mind. Isn’t it amazing that success and ruin all begins in my head first? My ability to bring my thoughts into disciplined behavior and to allow the Faith to shape the way I think is ALWAYS the first battleground for my life. As the old computer programming saying went “Garbage in; Garbage out.” Discipline your mind by thinking on heavenly truths and ruin will never darken your door!
Next the Root of Ruin shows up in the Hands. My grandmother would say to us boys during my summers staying with her that “You boys hands aren’t painted on. Get out here and help!” Whatever the task to be done had to be done and we could jump in and help get it done. Ruin always follows close to the lazy. When a life is gripped by scattered distraction to the point on inaction, ruin isn’t far behind.
Finally the Root of Ruin ends up in the Mouth. It never fails, a life headed to disaster always seems noisy! A person easily set off or quick to speak at every opportunity sets himself up for heartache if he doesn’t find a way to discipline his mouth! Let your actions do your talking for you!
Today, you’ve seen too many lives ruined by an inattentive lifestyle, haven’t you? But set before you today are all the treasures and tools you’ll ever need to set your mind right, get your actions going, and tame your tongue. And it all starts by being Orthodox on Purpose!