HOW TO MAKE A HABIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
1. “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt
until they are too strong to be broken.”
2. Wisdom is concerned with developing habits that turn into a right way of life.
a. A life is not merely a series of disconnected events.
b. It will have a distinctive character about it.
c. That way of life will have within it a destiny.
3. Proverbs are sayings on what those habits will need to be.
a. General rules about how life works in the long run
b. Consist of two lines: the second may contrast with the first, or parallel it, or elaborate on it
c. Sometimes bound together by a common theme
4. Chapters 10 and 11 especially direct attention to the habits of righteousness.
a. A series of about thirty contrasts between the ways of the righteous and the wicked
b. They speak of the values, conduct, and influence of both in very practical terms.
c. The principles that emerge show us how to make a habit of righteousness.
5. The starting point – the one truth which breathes through the whole section – is the conviction that righteousness is more valuable than anything else in life.
a. 11:19 – “Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but he who pursues evil will die.”
b. 10:27, 29-30
e. 11:21 – “Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished, but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered.”
6. Righteousness becomes a way of life through behaviors that are to be practiced day by day until they become habits, elements of our character.
a. Engage in the honest and diligent pursuit of what is good. (10:2-5, 23, 26; 11:1, 27)
b. Live genuinely and transparently.
i. Have modesty and respect for what is private.
ii. In some ways, what you cover and what you conceal will tell the story of your character.
iii. 10:6, 11-12, 18; 11:13
c. Talk like a righteous person.
i. Interestingly, there is more said about this in these two chapters than about anything else.
ii. How a person talks does become a habit.
iii. 10:11, 13, 19-21, 31-32
v. Few things will impact your own life and that of the people around you as much as how you habitually talk.
d. Place a high value on maintaining honorable domestic relations.
i. Toward your parents: “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother” (10:1).
ii. Toward neighbors: “With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered....Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent” (11:9, 11).
iii. Toward strangers: “Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm, but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure” (11:15).
iv. Toward women and men: “A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches....Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion” (11:16, 22).
v. Toward your household: “Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart” (11:29).
e. Guard your personal integrity.
i. This is much the same as saying, “Make a habit of respecting your own conscience.”
ii. 10:9; 11:3, 20
iii. Be true to yourself.
f. Keep yourself enrolled in a life-long learning program.
i. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” (11:2).
ii. 10:8, 14, 17
iii. Notice that whether you have a habit of growth is a matter of character.
g. Let it become your nature to be kind.
i. Be merciful and compassionate in your treatment of other people, so much so that it becomes your way.
ii. 11:17, 24-25
h. Develop a sense of security that has an appropriate basis.
i. This will largely mean having a realistic view of material things: they can’t and won’t last.
ii. 10:24-25, 28
iii. 11:4, 18, 28
7. A righteous life is worth the time and practice devoted to the building of it (11:30-31).