Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. – Proverbs 4:14-15
As parents, we so often encourage our kids to have “good” friends. What we really mean is we want them to have friends which are what we would consider “good” kids. We’d prefer their friends to be from “good” homes, hopefully kids whose parents we know. We want the parents of those kids to either go to our church or at least another church we would classify as a “good” church. Bottom line, we want them to associate with other children who are being brought up to hold the same moral and spiritual values that we are trying to instill in our own children.
We often think that if we can just keep our kids away from any negative influences, especially “bad” friends, they’ll be more likely to grow up sharing our values and turn out to be “good” people.
This is all fine and dandy.
However, one may easily “enter the path of the wicked” on their own. Most of us don’t really need encouraged to sin or “walk in the way of evil”. We tend to learn how to sin pretty early in life. The real lesson for us is to learn how important it is for us to “turn away from it.” Going down the wicked path is such an easy thing to do.
Sin is a bad thing. Sin isn’t something to mimic. Sin is not something to toy with. Sin is bad. Sin is bad enough that I need to make a point to not put myself in a position where I am “entering the path of the wicked.”
The problem, we all have a bent of sin. None of us are really “good.” Even those of us who have been followers of Christ many years can still find ourselves going down a path of wickedness if we aren’t careful. Going to church every week won’t, by itself, keep us from entering that path. Proverbs is showing us we must take diligent steps to avoid wickedness.
But at the same time, Jesus’ model for His disciples is to be connected to the world around us, but in a way that we are different. Some might call that “being in the world but not of the world.” I think that’s all part of the salt and light teaching of Matthew 5.
I’m not going to be dogmatic on what steps one needs to take to avoid that wicked path mentioned here in Proverbs 4, but I will throw out an idea that we must take seriously the call to keep ourselves from going down a path of wickedness. For me, this is an almost every day decision. No one wakes up one morning and says “Today, I’m going to compromise my values and risk my family and career for one single fling of sin.” But, slowly overtime, that is what people who get trapped by sin end up doing. It starts because they didn’t take the necessary steps to keep themselves from ever getting into a compromising situation.
Verse 26 of Proverbs 4 tells us to “ponder the path of your feet.” Take a moment and think before you head down the path of the wicked.
Whether it’s sexual temptation, greed, a grab for power and recognition or any other sinful pleasure, the allure begins slowly. That path of the wicked can trip us up unless we do as Proverbs tells, “Avoid it and turn away from it.” So, daily, make a point to ask the LORD to give you wisdom on the path you are walking. If you get any indication that you might not want to go down a particular path, then error on the side of the wisdom of Proverbs.