In the book of Proverbs, we find an interesting statement concerning the man with whom God will be pleased: “A good man will obtain favor from the Lord, but He will condemn a man who devises evil” (Proverbs 12:2). This verse can serve as a powerful motivator for the Christian if properly understood. It will be the purpose of this article to discuss both the meaning and the implications of this simple passage.
Who is the good man? Very simply, it is the man who exercises his free will choice to do good. Jesus set an example for us in this area as “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). The good man of the Proverb is the one who seeks to imitate his Lord in this regard. Jesus sought the welfare of others—He was concerned about the spiritual and physical afflictions of mankind.
The good man is also defined by way of contrast. Specifically, his character is set against the man who devises evil. The latter chooses to act with evil motives. He plans to do that which is contrary to the will of God. Oftentimes, his actions are harmful to others.
How do we know when we are doing good? We are doing good when we follow the directives of God. When we study the Scriptures we will find ourselves “equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). The Bible provides commandments, principles, and examples that instruct us in the good that God expects of us.
Thus, the Proverb writer challenges us to seek out God’s will as revealed in the Scriptures. We then choose to do the good works as defined by God. In so doing, we become the good man of Proverbs 12:2.
Now, let us consider the implications of this verse. In this Proverb, we find both positive and negative consequences that result from our actions. Once again, the outcome will be based upon our decisions.
If we choose to do good, then we will obtain favor from the Lord. Does this mean that life will always “work out” as we desire? No. In fact, adversity may be what we need most to draw us closer to God. At times, the favor of God may come in the form of suffering that “yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).
Receiving favor from the Lord may, at other times, be in the form of material blessing. In his epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul encouraged the brethren to give of their means to assist the needy saints in Jerusalem. This was certainly doing good. God’s favor would result in their financial prosperity: “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10).
The negative side of the Proverb is expressed as receiving condemnation from God. Again, this is the consequence of an intentional choice to do evil (in contrast to good). Those who choose this path of life have not taken time to seriously consider what it means to receive God’s condemnation. Condemn is a very powerful word. Given that the creator of the universe is the source of this condemnation, the implications of this statement become even more frightening.
We grow spiritually as we reflect upon God’s love, mercy, and compassion; at the same time, it is profitable to soberly meditate upon the condemnation (or judgment) of God. Consider the following: “There will tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil . . . For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries . . . It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God: (Romans 2:9; Hebrews 10:26-27, 31).
In conclusion, use the principles set forth in this Proverb as a means of positive motivation. Choose to do good while abstaining from evil. Plan works that will result in God’s favor. Your life will be blessed and you will be a blessing to others!