We’re continuing to look at the seven things in our passage that God sees as an abomination. God is a tender, compassionate God who is rich in mercy and grace, but He is also a God of justice—One who hates and abhors sin in every form. Preachers often fail to remind people that while our God is essentially a God of love, He also has the capacity to hate and wield His vengeance (Rom 12:19).
In Proverbs 6:16-19 the passage clearly declares that God hates haughty eyes (a proud look), a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren. Today, we’re looking at the fifth thing written here that is an abomination to our Lord, “feet that run rapidly to evil”.
5. Feet That Are Swift in Running Into Mischief (Evil)
If evil thoughts and imaginations are nurtured and fed, they eventually lead to outward acts of sin. Our feet follow where our hearts and minds and thoughts have already gone. God’s Word warns us “as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Prov 23:7). For those who buy into the idea that we are what we eat, imagine what we choose to fester our minds on and how that changes our hearts.
Jesus warns us that our actions depend upon our thoughts: “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matt 12:34-37)
The Word of God makes it clear: we will be held accountable for every idle word whether it slips out of our mouth or not. While it is true that we are “saved by grace”, it is also true that faith in Christ produces obedience. As we discussed in our last post, heart-keeping is much like house-keeping. There must be a continual sweeping out of dirt, and a cleaning out of rubbish. We are responsible for our thoughts, and while it is true that we cannot keep the devil from injecting evil thoughts into our minds, it is also true that we should not dwell upon such thoughts, because “as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov 23:6-9). Dwelling on evil thoughts will cause us to swiftly run to evil.
The “mischief” spoken of in Prov 6:18 refers to evil actions of any kind. The Thesaurus includes the following words as substitutes for “mischief”: impairment, damage, injury, harm, discord, conflict, friction, evil, destruction, etc. Mischief carries with it the idea of hurtful conduct which is often done only as a joke. It is closely related to “foolishness.” And we must remember that “foolishness” is one of the thirteen sins mentioned in Mark 7:22 where Jesus talks about theft and covetousness and blasphemy.
There is a proper place for teasing and good clean fun, but each of us must decide where the line is to be drawn between good clean humor, and what amounts to a pure waste of time and a mischievous use of words. Loud laughter and wise-cracking and foolish joking are really violations of God’s instruction. His Word instructs us to “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person (Col 4:5-6).
Conducting ourselves with wisdom is behavior that is inviting to others, which will hopefully invite others to come to know the Lord. If our feet run rapidly to evil, what sets us apart (as holy) from other sinners? If there is no difference in us and those who aren’t saved, what about us invites others to share a different life than they have been living? Today there’s a potpourri of mischievous conduct in vandalizing other’s property, purposely hurting others, yelling loudly, setting off fire-crackers or firearms, and not keeping with the quiet and peaceable life which we are to pray for (1 Tim 2:2). There’s a cornocopia of people who are choosing hateful and evil conduct over loving one another, which is allowing our feet to run swiftly to evil. God hates that. Let’s make certain we aren’t part of that behavior.