“By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown.” (Proverbs 11:11)
As the Proverbs repeat over and over again, living uprightly and wisely ‘pays off’ in the end. “The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous” (Proverbs 3:33). This might not always be clear immediately, since injustice can lead to short-term wealth and prosperity while the righteous sometimes have to suffer. But in the long run, people who hold fast to wisdom and righteousness “are called blessed” (Proverbs 3:18).
Today’s text goes one step further. Not only does the person who lives wisely himself, but the whole city profits from his lifestyle. Righteous people are a blessing to others, and highly valued. “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness” (Proverbs 11:10). Of course, there are exceptions. Wicked people might not value your righteousness at all. And yet, even in hostile surroundings we should ‘spread our light’. As the prophet Jeremiah told the Israelites who had to live in Babylon against their will: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).
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