|Volume 24 Number 9 September 2022
“Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path” (NKJV) or “course” (NASU) (Proverbs 2:9). The Hebrew word for “course” refers to a track left by a wagon or cart from constant use. It has the idea of “entrenchment.” It reminds me of a sign I saw in Africa that said (loosely translated), “Choose your path carefully, because you’ll be in it for the next 25 miles.” The deep ruts created through years of use made it virtually impossible to get one’s wagon out. Once you got on that road, you were most likely going to have to stay on it. Solomon wanted his son to find a good rut, a course that is a wise, God-approved course. Of course, implied in this is that there is a bad course. Solomon talked about the “way of evil” (Proverbs 2:12; 4:14) and the “ways of darkness” (Proverbs 2:13). It was his son’s choice. He needed to choose well.
We make choices every day. We make a choice to pray or not to pray, to read the Bible or to read everything but the Bible, to concentrate on being holy or casually going through our day without much resolve and to be active in the work of God or be a couch potato.
Today we might say, “You’re in a rut.” Well, is it a good rut or a bad one? If good, well! If bad, then get out of it immediately!
“And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:39 NKJV). This statement made by our Lord was a partial answer to the question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:36). The Savior had first replied “…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). The thought of loving oneself might seem to be rather selfish and arrogant; however, Jesus teaches us to love others in the manner we love ourselves. The apostle Paul wrote, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:28). Yet, the question might be raised as to why a person should love himself.
We learn in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” While man’s physical body was formed from the dust of the earth, the part of man that pertains to his spirit, mind and soul was made in the likeness of his Creator. Man is not a product of a mere accident or by chance. The Great, August God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth was both the Designer and the Maker of man. Such knowledge caused the Psalmist to declare, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well” (Psalms 139:14). Furthermore, God loved us and demonstrated that love by giving His only Son for our sins (John 3:16-17). “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). Since God made us and loved us, surely, we ought to love ourselves.
We can have self-respect without conceit, concern for self without selfishness and love for self that is void of vanity. We should not be possessed with an inferiority complex or an attitude of “I’m not worth anything.” Jesus taught that the worth of one soul is more than the whole world (Matthew 16:26). Each one is indeed important in the sight of the Almighty God. True happiness in this life comes from accepting ourselves as God has made us and in responding to the grace and love of the Heavenly Father by giving ourselves totally to His Son, Jesus Christ.
[Editor’s Note: If one doesn’t love self and have self-esteem, he is at a disadvantage when trying to properly love another or to esteem others. Yet, loving oneself too much also diminishes one’s ability to properly love others or to esteem them. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]