He that walks uprightly walks surely: but he that perverts his ways shall be known.
This is a practical maxim which, if generally adopted and carried out in action, would change the whole aspect and condition of the world, producing order, peace, and happiness where now reign only disorder, misery, and crime. What is it to be right? It is to have our feeling, sentiments, and conduct conformed to the will of God, the eternal rule of right; or it is to think, feel, and act in accordance with the immutable standard of truth and right revealed in the Word of God. How extensive a thing right is! It takes in both the inner and outer man; both the duties which we owe to ourselves, and those which we owe to our fellow-men and to God.
I. TO BE RIGHT IS TO BE STRONG. All the various faculties God has given us attain their most perfect development, activity, and strength only when they are nurtured and trained, and are exercised in accordance with the laws of right. This is true of body, mind, and heart. This is supported by Bible examples. This is a source of strength which can be found nowhere else. It brings the whole man into harmony with himself, reason, conscience, will — and all these into harmony with God and the great forces of His moral government and providence. Strength in being right is real strength.
II. TO RE BIGHT IS TO BE SAFE. This must be true, since God and His government are on the side of right, and all His perfections are pledged for the safety and ultimate well-being of them that obey His laws. He walks in the light who is right. It is true, even in regard to our temporal interests, that to be right is to be safe. We sometimes see a man apparently prosperous and happy in a course of wrong-doing. But he is all the while in danger. The path of rightness may not always be the shortest way to temporal prosperity, it is always, in the long run, the surest. Much more, to be right is to be safe in regard to our spiritual and eternal interests.
III. TO BE RIGHT IS TO BE HAPPY. This might be inferred with entire certainty from the design of the Creator in making us free moral agents; from the faculties He has given us, and the laws He has impressed on our being and ordained for our obedience; and also from the various provisions of His providence and grace, as well as from the abundant teachings and promises of His Word. The happiness of God consists in His being right. He is infinitely happy because He is infinitely righteous, true, just, and good.
IV. TO BE RIGHT IS TO BE IN A POSITION OF ETERNAL PROGRESS IN ALL THAT ADDS DIGNITY AND BLESSEDNESS TO AN IMMORTAL NATURE. What have we to do, in this state of probation, to secure the highest good of our souls? how rise to the highest dignity and happiness which our immortal natures are made capable of attaining? Only one answer can be given. It is by being right: right with God, right with our own moral and immortal nature, and right with the principles of that eternal government which the Creator has ordained, and under which we are to live for ever and ever. The man who is right has God on his side, and the laws of the universe on his side, and all good beings on his side; and into whatever part of the universe he may remove, God is there, surrounding him with His everlasting favour, and he cannot be otherwise than safe and happy. Practical lessons:
1. God exercises a moral government over this world. He has made us free moral agents. He has placed us under wise and benevolent laws, sanctioned by rewards and punishments, which are sure to follow, in the line of right or wrong-doing. Results are not complete in this life. Things are nosy in progress; the full consequences of human conduct lie in the future. But what we see here is sufficient to convince us that God reigns over this world as a righteous moral Governor.
2. We may learn what is true policy. It is always and in all circumstances to do what is right. Cunning, compromise, artifice, expediency, and fraud may seem to work well for a time, but mischief and evil are sure to come in the issue. The effect always is to corrupt moral principle, to weaken conscience, to darken the mind, and to arm providence, and the course of nature, and the Word of God against those who thus sacrifice right for expediency, and principle for policy.
3. No change in a man's life is so great as when he is truly converted from sin to holiness, and comes under the law of right as his ruling principle of action. It changes his whole state and prospects for eternity.
4. How urgent, then, are the reasons for seeking to be right above all things else — right with ourselves, right with our fellow-men, right with God and the eternal laws and principles of His government.
(J. Hawes, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.