Do not lurk like a thief near the house of the righteous, do not plunder their dwelling place; for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes. – Prov. 24:15-16 NIV
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The biblical book of Proverbs is a book that is generally associated with words of wisdom and it is one of the books whose authorship is associated with King Solomon. Several of its verses contain statements that will remain useful for anyone who intends to live a life guided by wisdom. Although all the chapters of the book contain verses with wisdom filled words, chapter twenty-two, verse seventeen to chapter twenty-four, verse twenty-two have been specially classed as verses containing thirty wise sayings with the scripture for today’s devotion being the twenty-seventh of those wise sayings. With its main focus on the righteous, the advise is for anyone who desires to live a life of wisdom to avoid lurking near the house of a righteous man like a thief with the intention to plunder him. The wise king says, such plans may succeed with such a righteous person being a victim of such an evil plan, but no matter how much the evil person succeeds in plundering the righteous, the righteous victim will always rise up again unlike the wicked that will definitely stumble once calamity strikes.
Although no one actually desires or loves setbacks in life, it seems they are unavoidable for everyone, whether they are Christians or not. There is no doubt that the one that is a victim of plundering by an evil person will experience some level of loss which will definitely create some form of setback. The scripture today reveals that living a righteous life or possessing conferred righteousness does not insulate anyone from experiencing such setbacks which the wise one describes as a fall. Experiencing setbacks or falls in life can therefore not be the yardstick to measure the level of righteousness in a person as both the righteous or the one striving to live a righteous life and the wicked person can both experience falls or setbacks in life.
As much as it is an advise to the evil person who intends to perpetrate or is perpetrating an evil plan, the two verse-advise reveals a lot for the one that intends to be wise.
- The one planning evil does not consider the spiritual state of the potential victim as both the righteous and the wicked can be targets. An evil minded person is more interested in activating the evil plan because he/she feels justified and capable of activating evil plans. This becomes more relevant in a fellowship of Christians where, it is expected that all its members operate in unison with the same level of righteousness. The true picture may however not be so as the level of sincerity of each member to God will differ and this will determine who can be classified as living a righteous life or having conferred righteousness and those that can actually be classed as wicked since their actions is more of pretense in their claims of belonging to the fellowship. However, this details does not matter to the evil person who may have taken a decision to attack the fellowship for varied reasons and in such circumstances, both the righteous and wicked will be likely targets.
- Both the righteous and the wicked can actually fall victims of the evil planner. Still using the fellowship of Christians as reference, should a wicked plan be targeted at members of the fellowship, that they are a Christian fellowship may not stop the evil from manifesting and making victims of them all. This does not in any way suggest that the group is not of God as today’s scripture reveals. Yes, they may all in the process suffer setbacks of various dimensions but there is assurance that they will overcome the setback and rise again, but only the ones that are living a righteous life or having conferred righteousness, as the wicked among them may not be able to give such testimony. So the test of the godliness of the group is not that they fell but that they rose from the fall as expected, just as the Prophet Micah told the enemy not to gloat over his fall as he is sure to rise again – Micah 7:8. The Pharisees, scribes and elders of Israel thought they had succeeded with their plans when Jesus was arrested, crucified, buried but in a manner that seemed like he was setting a precedence, he rose from dead.
- That the righteous fell once due to the activities of the evil planner does not mean that he/she cannot experience another attack and fall. The various experiences of Apostle Paul during his missionary journeys are relevant references here. He experienced several events that could be regarded as setbacks or fall but he kept rising from them all – 2Cor. 11:23-29. This is a very important piece of information for the Christian to know that immunity is never developed to experiencing setbacks in life. That one experienced setback once is no guarantee that another will not follow, sometimes even immediately. The number of times the Christian falls is not the issue but the test of the Christian is that the number of times he/she rises should always be higher by a one, when the entire falling and rising is assessed. The Israelites never stopped falling when they have committed an evil act but they also did not stop rising after every fall by doing the needful, which is to go back to their God in remorse seeking forgiveness.
- The difference between the righteous and the wicked will be the capability of the righteous to bounce back from every experience of a fall or setback unlike the wicked. This definitely remains the yardstick also for carrying out personal assessment with regards to one’s relationship with the Almighty God. The Christian must always rise from every fall to prove that God is bigger than every evil plan.
In summary, Christians should never believe that they cannot experience setbacks in life. A situation where what seems like a setback occurs and the individual begins to question God on why such experiences should happen can only indicate the level of ignorance that such is operating in, as the event could just be the opportunity to show to the world that he/she is enjoying a very good relationship with the Almighty God.
The wicked will never stop operating in their wickedness and their evil actions should not be sufficient to stop the true Christian from excelling. This earth for now will have to accommodate both the Christian and the non-Christian and the Christian must excel – Matt. 13:24-30. Do not let anyone use your setbacks to judge you as all you need to do is to focus on maintaining a good relationship with your creator and you will surely rise after that setback. Falling or setbacks in life are normal, what will be abnormal for the Christian is not rising after that fall. Rising from that fall is all that matters. It is not about the number of times you fall but your being spiritually positioned to rise again. May god confer on us all the righteousness to make us rise after every fall in Jesus name. Amen.