The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot
The choices that we make do not just last for our lifetimes, but they create a legacy that in a sense lives forever. We have been trained by our culture that our choices only count for right now, so please yourselves.
The destructive power of wickedness is demonstrated in a thousand lives all around us just as the constructive power of righteousness is demonstrated in lives all around us.
The word wicked means those who live outside the boundaries of the Ten Commandments: those who chose other gods, those who misrepresent God with an idol, those who dishonor parents and authorities, those who commit murder and adultery, those who steal, etc.
When living beyond the boundaries of God’s moral law is the norm in a person’s life, then they are biblically a wicked person. Our culture has tried to restrict wickedness to rape and murder of children and the like. But God has not changed the standard.
Ask yourself the question: Do you know people who have committed adultery and blown up their marriage and who have permanently altered the course of their children’s lives? I do. Do you know those who have, through stealing from a company or the government or others, brought a plague upon their own family? I do. Do you know families that allow the children to be disrespectful and rebellious to the parents and who, therefore, have little or no reason to hang together as a family? I do.
These and many other examples of condoned wickedness have caused the legacy of a family to become rotten, damaging the potential and insights of the children and themselves.
Conversely, a practical definition of righteousness in the book of Proverbs is living within the boundaries of the Ten Commandments. These people do not purposely or knowingly commit actions that would leave them outside of the moral boundaries of the Ten.
I was just witnessing a graduation of friends and their senior daughter from high school. The positive legacy of this father and mother’s faith is wonderful to behold. The daughter who was graduating was recognized as having an extra measure of Christian joy. I was commenting on how marvelous it must be to be building a legacy of strong Christians in their family. I watched as a legacy of righteousness is being built. Discipline, courage, faith, love, and joy in the Lord – these qualities are a part of the blessing of righteousness.
One of the things that righteous people do is have a prioritized life so that they make sure they have time for their children. In our culture it is common to pursue success so hard that we run right past it when it is available to pursue. Life is relationships. A righteous person must slow their lives down enough to develop real relationships with family, friends, and others.
The word memory here is the idea of remembrance of that which triggers the memory of an event, person, or place. This proverb states that the righteous cause this type of positive trigger mechanism. Righteousness also brings blessing to the family as an individual and eventually a family and then an extended family learn how to live their life within the confines of the clearly revealed, ethical guidelines.
Do you want to build a lasting memory to the good name that you carry? Then work righteousness. If the answer is that you do not care about leaving a lasting legacy, then commit wickedness with gusto and you will create a lasting trail of wreckage into the future.
the name of the wicked will rot
This means that rottenness or decay will follow the wicked. There is a very true sense that the wicked bring decay and destruction. It is rottenness and parasitic to selfishly pursue wickedness to the exclusion of all else.
We must help parents understand that how they live their lives and how they parent will build a long-term environment in which their children will dwell. Choose wisely – others will have to live in, with, or down your choices. You are not alone when you make choices. You’re a complex web of relationships that define who you are.
Make good choices to live your life within the boundaries of the Ten Commandments.
* This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material. The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.