Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 4:15
"Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn away from it and pass on"
This is a foreign concept to our culture. We believe that all knowledge should be known. We believe that endless curiosity is a good thing. We cannot imagine that there are whole categories of information that we should not know anything about. But Solomon and the rest of the Bible say that there are categories of information that it is best to not understand. These are the categories of wickedness.
God suggests here that wickedness has a corrupting influence that goes beyond just those who actually do wickedness. It reaches out to those who just stand by and watch. Those who learn about it become seduced by its power and effect. It is a corruption.
This is the Hebrew word para which means to let alone, avoid, let go. The idea here is to give the wicked a wide berth. Those who go outside the boundaries of the Ten Commandments to accomplish their selfish purposes without remorse or retreat are wicked.
Solomon sees this as a category of behavior. It is selfishness raised to an exponential level. I want what I want and I don't care who gets hurt or what I have to do to have what I want. He says to avoid it because it is powerful. It will reach out from its place and draw you in. Avoid it.
This is the Hebrew word abar which means to pass over, through, by, on. The idea here is to not stop if you are near the opening to wickedness. Don't stop. When those choices that are wicked present themselves, just keep moving. Don't even stop and wonder what it would be like to do them. Don't stop and contemplate how to be wicked. Just keep going mentally, emotionally, and physically. If you spend too much time focusing on what you think you will gain on the way to be wicked, you stand a very good chance of going down this ruinous path. Remember, it starts out with lots of gain, but it is eating away at your soul and your meaning in life.
This is the Hebrew word satah which means to turn aside. The idea here is when you are going along in life with various choices available to you, there will come times when a wicked choice presents itself: The chance to lie and become a liar; the opportunity to enter into an adulterous relationship; the chance to steal; the chance to have the cool relationship with someone who worships another god. Solomon says while these things are tempting, turn away from these choices. You won't be making progress. You will be damaging the positive life God has planned for you.
Unfortunately, I have watched people reject Solomon's counsel here and greedily go down the path of wickedness to get what they want. They lie, they steal, they blaspheme, they fornicate, they use violence, they worship false gods. It doesn't take long for a person to be held in the prison of sin when they pursue their goals through wickedness. I have watched young men throw away college educations, careers, and the respect of their family. I have watched dads and moms shatter their families, their reputation, and their careers because they thought they could gain from wickedness.
Avoid it, pass by, turn away. It is a seductive opportunity that looks like a short cut. But it is a short cut to destruction. It is climbing aboard a wild tiger. Wherever you think you are going is not where you will end up. And you will be consumed in the process.