Proverbs 20:6, 7
Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?
Here are brought out again, in proverbial brevity, the blessings which belong to moral worth.
I. THE DOUBTFUL VALUE OF SELF-PRAISE. "Most men will proclaim," etc.
1. On the one hand, nothing is better than the approval of a man's own conscience. "Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo," says the Roman writer. Let a man have the commendation of his own conscience, and he can hear the hisses of the people with very little concern. It has been in this spirit that the very noblest things have been done by honourable and even heroic men.
2. On the other hand, there is a vast amount of self-congratulation amongst men which is nothing more or better than mere complacency. It is self-flattery, and that is not beautiful, but ugly; it is not true, but false. And such is the tendency in man to assure himself that he is right, even when he is thoroughly and lamentably wrong, that we have to wait and to inquire before we take men's word about themselves. Between the heroic spirit of a Luther, or a Columbus, or a Galileo, and the miserable self-satisfaction of some petty tyrant gloating over his tyranny, there is the entire breadth of the moral world. It is well for us all to be able to do without the honour that cometh from man only; it is well for us also to recognize the truth that our own commendation, so far teem being the voice of God within us, may be nothing but the very unsightly crust of a dangerous and even deadly complacency.
II. THE EXCELLENCY OF FAITHFULNESS. Solomon seemed to find fidelity a rare thing. "Who can find it?" he asked. With Christian truth sown in so many hearts, we do not feel the lack of it as he did. We thank God that in the home and the school, in the shop and the factory, in the pulpit and the press, in all spheres of honourable activity, we find instances of a solid and sound fidelity - men and women occupying their post and doing their work with a loyalty to those whom they serve, which is fair indeed in the sight both of heaven and of earth. There is abundance of unfaithfulness also, it has to be owned and lamented; and this is sometimes found where it is simply disgraceful - among those who wear the name of that Master and Exemplar who was "faithful in all his house." It is required of us, who are all stewards, that we be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2); and we must not only expect to give account to our brother here, but to the Divine Judge hereafter.
III. THE WORTH OF GUIDING PRINCIPLES. "A just man walketh in his integrity." What fairer sight is there beneath the sun? A just or upright man, a man who is
(1) yielding to God that which is due to his Creator and his Redeemer, viz. his heart and his life; who is
(2) giving to his neighbours what is due to them; and who is
(3) honouring himself as is his due; - this man is "walking" along the path of life in his integrity, every step directed by righteous principles and prompted by honourable impulses; his way is never crooked, but lies straight on; it is continuously upward, and moves to noble heights of virtue and wisdom and piety. Who would not be such as he is - a man God owns as his son, and the angels of God as their brother, and all his fellow men as their helper and their friend?
IV. THE CROWN OF HUMAN BLESSEDNESS. "His children are blessed after him." Then is a good man crowned with an honour and a joy which no diadem, nor rank, nor office, nor emolument, can confer, when his children are found "walking in the truth" of God, their affections centred in that Divine Friend who will lead them in the path of heavenly wisdom, their life governed by holy principles, themselves enriched and encircled by a holy and beautiful character, their influence felt on every hand for good - "a seed which the Lord hath blessed." - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?