1 The wicked flee though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
2 When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers,
but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.
3 A ruler[a] who oppresses the poor
is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.
4 Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked,
but those who heed it resist them.
5 Evildoers do not understand what is right,
but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.
6 Better the poor whose walk is blameless
than the rich whose ways are perverse.
7 A discerning son heeds instruction,
but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.
8 Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor
amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.
9 If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction,
even their prayers are detestable.
10 Whoever leads the upright along an evil path
will fall into their own trap,
but the blameless will receive a good inheritance.
11 The rich are wise in their own eyes;
one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.
12 When the righteous triumph, there is great elation;
but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding.
13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.
15 Like a roaring lion or a charging bear
is a wicked ruler over a helpless people.
16 A tyrannical ruler practices extortion,
but one who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long reign.
17 Anyone tormented by the guilt of murder
will seek refuge in the grave;
let no one hold them back.
18 The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe,
but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit.[b]
19 Those who work their land will have abundant food,
but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.
20 A faithful person will be richly blessed,
but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.
21 To show partiality is not good—
yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread.
22 The stingy are eager to get rich
and are unaware that poverty awaits them.
23 Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor
rather than one who has a flattering tongue.
24 Whoever robs their father or mother
and says, “It’s not wrong,”
is partner to one who destroys.
25 The greedy stir up conflict,
but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.
26 Those who trust in themselves are fools,
but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
28 When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding;
but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.
One of the main reasons we began FIGHT CLUBS at Passion City Church was to challenge men to step into accountability, experience brotherhood, and, ultimately, live in freedom. We believed then and still do now that if we as men are bold enough to step out of the shadows and into the light, God will do remarkable work in and through our stories.
I know that reading those words can make the mission of accountability seem straightforward. However, we know from history and personal experience that intimacy and openness are often anything but easy.
Confession and repentance are relatively common words with scary implications. It’s tough for any person, let alone men who feel the need to be strong, protective, and proficient, to admit a weakness or inadequacy. Confession comes with a cost, and more times than not, we don’t want to pay that price.
But what are we missing out on if we continually refuse to engage in accountability? What could we begin to experience if we were a measure braver than we were afraid?
The writer of Proverbs 28 weaves the thread of vulnerability and integrity throughout the passage. We see a few verses in that “better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.” Later in the text, we come to a similar-sounding verse, “Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.” Clearly, the author is trying to drive home a point through his repetition: integrity is to be highly valued and is a primary component of a life of freedom.
But how do we get integrity? How can we ensure that we are developing the right kind of roots, growing deeper in our faith while cultivating the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5)?
Accountability. The conviction and practice of moving out of the shadows and into the light. It’s the fundamental idea written right in the middle of Proverbs 28:
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.”
He who confesses his transgressions and forsakes them (i.e., repents, turns away from, moves in a new direction), that man will obtain mercy and be blessed.
If we recoil back, being more content in the comfort of our shadows, if we are convinced that we are strong enough, smart enough, tough enough to go through this life on our own, we will reap the harvest of that isolation. We will not prosper, and we will not mature into the men of integrity that God is calling us to become.
The proverbs are begging us to realize that if we want wisdom, we must seek it. And if we desire integrity, character, Godliness, and all other manners of blessings, we must pursue it. The primary tool we use is accountability: confession and repentance.
You have all that you need to step out of the shadows and into the light. You just need to be willing to take that first, brave step.
As you commanded Moses and Joshua, God, help me today to be strong and courageous. Not in my power or sufficiency, but in Yours alone. Spur my heart towards deep community, and may I pursue accountability for my good and Your glory.