Two Sides of Holiness
Godliness has both a negative and a positive side.
Today’s reading: Proverbs 28-29; 2 Corinthians 7
7 A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge. Proverbs 29:7
1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1
The Proverbs continues contrasting the wise and the fool, the righteous and the wicked, the rich and the poor. The stereotypes don’t always hold up, however. The poor are sometimes wise. The rich are sometimes foolish. But not always. [See “A Warning Against Stereotyping”].
The righteous man or woman “knows the rights of the poor.” One who does not grasp the dignity and worth of every human being, by virtue of their being made in God’s image, and thus entitled to rights is classified with the wicked. This does not mean that the sluggard should be enabled to continue in his indolence. It does mean that a godly person will seek to be discerning, and to promote the well being of the poor who have legitimate needs, perhaps because of health limitations, or the injustices of others, or “acts of God” like crop failures. The poor have rights, and the righteous will understand this. They will not ignore those in real need.
Paul urges the Corinthians to cleanse themselves from sin and to grow in holiness. This is God’s purpose for His own people, that they should be godly, awaiting the appearing of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, and zealous for good works (Titus 2:11-13). They count this life as a transition period in which they can invest themselves in good works. One area of good works is care for the poor and suffering of this world. It is not enough to merely flee from sin, God’s people are also called to do good to others.
Sanctification, the process of growing in godliness, has both negative (don’t do that) and positive (do this) aspects. Do you seek to grow both in fleeing from sin and fleeing to good works? We glorify God in both those ways. Stop and think about that.