Proverbs 12:26

Proverbs 12:26 "The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them."
Proverbs 12:26 Church Jesus Buffalo NY
It has been said that "misery loves company" and this proverb would imply that Solomon likely agreed with that statement.  That being said and not surprisingly, he would have had a lot more to say about that.

In the neighborhood drawn in this proverb, Solomon shows us two particular types of homes - the home of the righteous and the home of the wicked.  One home is not afraid to be morally different and spiritually unique while the other home is terrified of being morally isolated.  The righteous home yearns to make God happy, even if that means he is to be PECULIAR among his peers while the wicked hates being the ODDBALL of his neighborhood.
 
Righteousness is only achieved by making God's pleasure the motivation for one's morality.  For a soul to be righteous, one must ignore, reject and forsake man's wicked ways.  This requires placing God's acceptance over man's acceptance.  This also requires placing the fear of God over the fear of man.  When a person does this, he will spiritually EXCEL above his neighbors and that, without regard for their feelings or opinions.  The righteous do not temper their spiritual ambition because their neighbors may be unhappy or unsupportive.  The righteous do not slow their spiritual walk in order to give their neighbors time to catch up.  The righteous do not lessen their spiritual service so as to not make neighbors feel bad.  The righteous do not compromise truth in order to appease their neighbors in any way.  Because God is more important to them than people are, the righteous are not afraid to spiritually EXCEL above their neighbors.  The righteous are not deterred by peculiarity or loneliness.  They would rather give up human companionship than give up Divine companionship for they know that God's companionship comforts the social loneliness that accompanies spiritual excellence.

The wicked, however, are far more concerned with social acceptance in the neighborhood than they are with moral acceptance in the heavens. The wicked hate being alone and isolated.  They desperately want others to participate in their lifestyle and in their immoral activities.  While the righteous look up, the wicked look around.  While the righteous are primarily concerned with what God thinks, the wicked are primarily concerned with what others think.  While the righteous are focused on making their ways straight before God, the wicked are focused on making the ways of their neighbors crooked just like theirs.  While the righteous are trying to emulate God's ways, the wicked are trying to get others to emulate their ways.  While the righteous are minding their own business, the wicked are trying to corrupt everyone else's business.  While the righteous are pursuing personal sanctification, the wicked are pursuing widespread seduction.  Just as misery loves company, wickedness loves company.  Drunkards like to get drunk with other drunks.  Gamblers like to gamble with other gamblers.  Thieves like to steal with other thieves.  Much of the violence done in our world is collaborative.  Gangs, mobs and accomplices make up both organized and unorganized crime.  Evildoers are first and foremost recruiters because wickedness loves company.

There is a great truth in this proverb that provides a litmus test of sorts for our lives.  Virtue is the byproduct of pursuing the pleasure of God when the pursuit is entirely irrelevant of your neighbor.  A concern for your neighbor's feelings, comfort or approval will result in spiritual compromise and ultimately, in an unconscious obsession with human company in your level of morality.  If you are trying to bring spiritually-ambitious people down to your level, you're more concerned about your feelings than God's feelings.  If you're trying to bring spiritually above-average souls down to a spiritually-average level, you're manifesting a particular wickedness according to this proverb.
 
This proverb is much more than, "misery loves company."  This proverb tells us what our outcome will be based on our focus in life.  If you're focused on YOURSELF, you'll pull others down to your spiritual level.  If you're focused on OTHERS, you'll stay at their spiritual level.  If you're focused on GOD, you'll excel to great spiritual heights where it will be socially lonely but spiritually fulfilling.  
 
Virtue needs no company but God.  Wickedness demands and commands company.  Do you NEED someone to agree with your doctrinal and theological position?  Do you NEED someone to validate your convictions and behavior?  Do you NEED someone to join you in your service to the Lord?  If so, virtue may not find a home in your soul.  Have you found yourself trying to convince people that the spiritually-ambitious are too ambitious?  Have you found yourself attempting to persuade your peers that the spiritually-active are too active?  Have you found yourself trying to get people on your philosophical side or down to your moral standing?  If so, virtue may not find its way into your heart.

On the other hand, are you willing to go as high as God wants you to go regardless of how many will accompany you?  Are you willing to serve God at any cost, even if that means you'll serve ALONE and potentially, at the expense of being criticized or deemed peculiar?  If so, righteousness awaits!

If Solomon was reading this proverb and given time to ask us a follow-up question, he would ask, "Who is your focus in life - yourselves, others or God?"  Do we want to feel good about ourselves?  Do we want to feel accepted by others?  OR do we want to bring God pleasure at any cost?  The answer to these questions will determine the level of virtue in our lives.  Just remember, virtue needs no company.

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