Proverbs 11:3, 5

Led by Integrity and Righteousness

Introduction:

1. Verses 3 & 5 will be taken together, because they are so close in meaning.

2. Both of these passages speak about “guidance” through life—a most practical lesson. Who doesn’t need guidance in decision-making?

Led by integrity and righteousness

A. WHO

1. The upright: (v. 3) straight; upright; correct; right; straight; level

a. The term “upright” is found in Proverbs 16 times—4 times in chapter 11.

b. This is a description of a man who goes by the rules.

c. He does things the “correct” way, rather than cutting corners…

d. He is “on the level”… straight… true… right… not crooked.

e. This man cares about ethics and morals and truth.

f. 12:6 – their words are true and right… and helpful

g. 15:8 – his prayers are a delight to the Lord—because his heart is right.

h. 16:7 – the upright depart from evil. They avoid it… separate from it.

i. 29:10, 27 – they are hated by evil men, but godly men seek them out.
• They are hated by the wicked because they take a stand against their wicked ways. No one likes their sin exposed.

j. The upright man is upright in his heart, his speech, his motives, and his actions. This is GENUINE uprightness being described—not a mere outward show.

2. The perfect: (Vs. 5) complete; whole; entire; sound; grown up; mature

a. This does not refer to one who is sinlessly perfect. Only the Lord was sinless in that sense.

b. It refers to a person is whole… balanced… has a mature perspective… sees the bigger picture… not childish, but grown up…

c. This verse runs parallel to verse 3—and the term perfect is parallel to “upright.” It does not appear as often in Proverbs as the term “upright.”

d. Taken together Solomon is describing a person who is well balanced, and who does things right… he’s on the level… he is mature and is accustomed to walking on the straight and narrow path…

e. These are the kinds of people who will experience this kind of guidance through life.

B. WHAT

1. They (upright; perfect) are GUIDED through life (vs. 3)

2. Their ways will be DIRECTED (vs. 5)

3. Their ways are DIRECTED (21:29)

4. They will be KEPT in the way… prevented from wandering. (13:6)

5. Their souls (lives) will be PRESERVED from many of the pitfalls and troubles that others face. (16:17)

C. HOW

1. Guided by integrity. (vs.3)

a. Integrity: innocence; simplicity; integrity; honesty; loyalty

b. How does integrity lead a man or woman or child through life?
• The person of integrity is led BY his integrity or sense of innocence and honesty… in that many of life’s choices are already decided BECAUSE of the love of honesty and innocence.
• Ex: the boss called in sick today… should I loaf like everyone else, or should I do my work as diligently as if he were here? Integrity answers that for you! The decision has been made already!
• Or any other issue that arises which calls for a decision—integrity will make the decision for you! If it’s shady, you don’t do it! If it is questionable, you stay away! If it involves dishonesty, integrity will guide you in another direction.
• Integrity will ALWAYS guide us away from that which is dishonest or shady… and will always direct us TOWARD that which is upright and fair and truthful.
• A person of integrity doesn’t have to debate these issues or agonize over them. He isn’t puzzled over which route to take. His integrity guides him. (Joseph before Potiphar’s wife)
• He instinctively KNOWS which route to take… integrity guides him! (Abraham refusing money from Sodom)

c. The upright man who has integrity is GUIDED by that integrity. His way is DIRECTED by that integrity.

d. It’s quite simple: “Which way do I go?” Go the way of integrity… avoid all other ways!
• He doesn’t chose on the basis of what he wants, and then attempts to justify his actions.
• He doesn’t make excuses for his choices; you don’t have to when integrity guides you!
• He doesn’t merely try to make his decisions LOOK like integrity guided him.

2. Directed by righteousness. (vs. 5)

a. Direct: to make the way straight; smooth; level; right;

b. How does righteousness direct the steps of a mature man? It greatly LIMITS his choices… narrows down the alternatives dramatically: he does what is RIGHT! End of the argument.

c. We live in a world that Paul calls a “present EVIL world.” We are surrounded by things that are not right all the time.

d. We are faced with many decisions in this evil world too… the choices we are faced with each day seem to be multiplying faster than we can compute.

e. It is sometimes difficult in making decisions—but here is a sure-fire way of simplifying our decision-making processes: do what is right!
• How should I do my job? Do it right! The way you were told.
• How should I do my homework? Do it right! Don’t cut corners… do whatever your teacher said to do… and the way they said to do it…
• How should I treat my spouse? Do it right… according to God’s standard of righteousness—the Word of God.
• How should I bring up my family? Do it right! Follow the instructions in the word!

f. If you brought your car to the garage because it is not working well, you want the mechanic to do the job right!
• You certainly hope that the doctor who is cutting you open is going to do his job right.
• Having a heart that is SETTLED on doing things right will simplify your life immensely.
• It will eliminate debates and conflicts. It eliminates many—perhaps most choices—because they are not right.

g. The mature man does what is right. That’s Solomon’s point.
• The choice for the mature man is already made for him—he will always do that which is right.
• It may be harder (usually is)… it may take longer… but in the end it is the BEST route to take.
• Direct: to make straight; remove obstacles—the stumblingblocks are removed, making it less likely to trip.
• A mature man can often tell instantly what is the right thing to do…
• There are some difficult issues in which right and wrong is not so clear—but the vast majority of decisions are obvious. Do what is right.
• The mature man often knows instinctively, deep down inside, what is the right thing to do. And he does it.
• The perfect or mature man has his WAY DIRECTED by righteousness.
• He comes to that crossroad—and righteousness is like a signpost directing his steps.
• If you are driving to Providence, you follow the signs for Providence. You don’t debate whether to go north or south… or whether to take the exit that says Cape Cod… or Hartford… You take the right road.
• If you are headed for Providence, not all roads are the right roads. The mature driver will take the right road… and he will arrive at his destination.

3. The UPRIGHT man who is guided by integrity and righteousness will also be ABLE TO BE LED by the Lord.

a. 15:8 – God delights in his prayer… and answers his prayer.

b. This man already has most of life’s choices answered for him: he does what is right because of integrity and honesty.

c. In those areas where it is not so easy to discern what the right thing to do is—he can pray and be heard and guided by God—because God delights in the prayers of such an upright man.

d. God will lead and guide those who are sensitive to Him… and to truth and honesty… and who desire to do things right. If that is the character of his heart—God can lead him.

4. His integrity, uprightness, and righteousness will also keep him safe.

a. 13:6 – Righteousness “keeps” (watch over; preserves) the upright man in the way.
• Ps. 25:21 – integrity and uprightness will preserve us… as we wait on the Lord.
• If you are walking in the straight and narrow way, righteousness will keep you there… prevent you from taking a turn out of the way…
• It’s a safety valve… it not only tells us what is the right way to go—it also warns us to avoid all the wrong ways.
• He is delivered from the TRAPS that ensnare others. Safe!
• Eph. 6:14 – a “breastplate” of righteousness… keeps us safe…
• Prov. 2:7 – God is a buckler (shield) to all those who walk uprightly. (If you want to do things right—God is right there to help, guide, and protect.)
• If we DON’T want to do things right, we are on our own.

Led by perverseness and wickedness

1. In these two verses (3, 5) the opposites of the upright and perfect man are recorded: transgressors and the wicked.

2. Instead of their lives being guided and directed, their lives are destroyed (vs. 3b) and they shall fall into more wickedness. (vs. 5b).

3. The perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them. (vs. 3)

4. The wicked shall fall by his own wickedness. (vs. 5)

5. The transgressors (who lack integrity) and the wicked (who have no righteousness) will also be guided through life—guided right to destruction… directed to a fall.

6. It’s pretty clear which way God wants our lives to be guided and directed. The results are much better too.