Recently, I’ve been feeling a bit blue. As an old friend once said to me, “People disappoint me.” I have certain expectations of friends and even of people I respect and they often fall short of what I hope for them. Many times I’m surprised at the levels some people stoop to for their own personal gain.
The proverb above has much for us to think about. The scoundrel, the person who is always out for themselves, suffers those consequences. Most often, I find scoundrels end up alone and unhappy and then they have to take out that loneliness on others. In many ways, a scoundrel is responsible for their own lot in life. Nobody likes them because nobody can trust them.
The second half of the proverb provides much more for our thoughts. Whose path is the the writer is referring to here? Does the “good man” reap the fruit of his own paths–or does he reap the fruit of the path of the scoundrel?
The answer may be both. The scoundrel most often overlooks the goodness that is right in front of his face and focuses only on the negative elements. They don’t believe in anyone but themselves and have to cut someone down for them to get ahead.
The good man however, is almost always outward-looking and positive. They reach that extra yard not merely for themselves but rather for another and what they find is that they end up gaining much more than what they gave. I’ve found that most happy business people are almost never that self-involved but are rather concerned about the needs of the people who work for them ahead of their own self-interest. They are, in a sense, on vacation every day–basking in the fruit of what they have created and hoping that it brings joy to the world.
Jesus created that kind of joy. The joy that awakened people to all they could become. The joy that lifted up the lowly and cast down the mighty in their conceit–as we hear in Mary’s Magnificat. The people whom the scoundrel has tried to keep down, end up being exhalted through the actions of the “good man”, the one who always creates healing and gives people a sense of belonging and self-worth.
As someone who struggles with self-esteem, I need to remember that I am not a scoundrel, and that I need to overcome the scoundrels in my life and find the good man who will bring me to that place where I am loved, where I am valued and where I can trust others.
May we all pray to find that good man or woman in our lives.