“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
Like many proverbs this is another that has been committed to memory and given some measure of acceptance and application in the lives of Christians. Anyone who meditates on it and considers the ramifications of such a proverb will of necessity be greatly shaken.
The very nature of the proverb informs us that we will not believe the proverb. After all, our human logic and reason always appears right to us so we will act in accordance with what seems right. “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes” (Proverbs 16:2) and “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes” (21:2). This may be why most people, if asked if they are a good or bad person, will respond by saying they are good. It is because they generally live according to their own conscience of what they believe is right and wrong. These proverbs affirm that they are not deliberately lying. This was evident in the history of Israel and is revealed in the book of Judges (17:6; 21:25).
Those of us who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ probably think these proverbs don’t have as much application to us but that would be a huge error. How often do we go ahead and do what seems right to us without ever checking with the Lord or His word? We do this far more often than we realise or are willing to admit. We are inclined to go to Him only when we are unsure or we consider it a “big” matter instead of in all our ways (3:6)
“The way of death” is not bodily death but death to our intimate fellowship with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In view of the magnitude of the two opposing ways, death or life, we would profit greatly by honest reflection on what is the prime influence in our lives with regard to the things we say and do.
Another proverb says, “A fool rages and is self-confident” (v 16) showing the folly of one who ignores his fallen state and corrupt logic and reason. There are many who brandish this attitude in our world today and reject the verdict of the only One who is able to search the hearts of people and He Himself is the measure.
Without a source of understanding and wisdom we have no measure. We are not left without resource. There is another proverb that includes these words, “in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6). God and His word are the only resource that will reveal the right way. Anything that comes from man without confidence and dependence in God and His word will lead to death and not life.