“The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life” (Proverbs 16:17)
Using simple, moral statements, the book of Proverbs teaches us about life’s realities and serves as a guidebook for the way in which we are to think through the choices we face in order to help us make the right ones. In his Bible Handbook, John MacArthur’s title for the book of Proverbs is “The Way of the Wise”. Plain and simple, Proverbs is to teach us how to be wise. It’s most recognizable and perhaps theme verse is Proverbs 1:7, “The fear (reverence) of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 16:17 and the verses that follow portray life as a highway and serve to help us focus on the right things in life. The highway of life has a lot of curves and slick spots that can get us off course and lead us places other than where God would have us go. But for the upright, the instruction for traveling the right road and staying on course is clear. We are to turn away from evil and guard our way. So, how do we do this? How do Christians navigate a world that would like to get us off track, a world that in large part stands opposed to God’s design for it?
In his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney defines Spiritual Disciplines as the personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth. These disciplines include things such as reading God’s Word, prayer, worship, serving and fasting, as well as several others. Practicing the spiritual disciplines aren’t a contrast to living out grace. Whitney says they are a way we place ourselves in the path of God’s grace, and as His grace flows to us, we are changed more and more. Spiritual Disciplines help us to know God in a deeper way, and as a result, enabled by the Holy Spirit, live a life that better reflects God’s will for our life.
For the Christian, the road began at Calvary, where on the cross Jesus paid the penalty for sin. It’s that road that will ultimately bring us home. However, in the meantime, our glorifying God will require we stay on this straight and narrow way. It will require that we prepare ourselves for some rough roads and navigate through some danger. Life can be a bumpy ride. It is naïve to think we can navigate this world without God at the wheel. That’s what the book of Proverbs, and for that matter, all of God’s Word is for. It’s through His Word and other spiritual disciplines that the Holy Spirit provides us the needed discernment as we go. A correct theology should always lead to practical righteousness. It should impact how we think, live and manage our lives every day. So, the question is, are you prepared for the ride?