Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 17:26
"It is also not good to fine the righteous, nor to strike the noble for their uprightness"
This is the Hebrew word anash which means to fine, impose, punish, pay the penalty.
Solomon is saying that it is extremely unwise to punish a person for doing the right thing for another person. There are situations where people are actually putting the needs of others ahead of their own needs and one should not punish this. This type of behavior should be encouraged, not denigrated. This is, however, happening more and more. When a father tries to slow down on the amount of hours that he works so that he can really love his wife and children, an increasing number of workplaces punish him for this righteous decision. When a teenager chooses to honor God with his/her body and says no to drugs or sex or alcohol, other kids often make this goody-two shoes pay a heavy price for not going along with their fun. When a people at a company work hard and accomplish their work in half the time as others, they often are made to see the error of their ways and made to slow down. When friends try to stand up for one of the group who is constantly picked on, their righteousness and love is laughed at and they become the point of the ridicule.
This is the Hebrew word saddiq which means blameless, innocent, just, righteous. The important idea to get across here is -- what does the righteous person do? Clearly they avoid wickedness by staying within the boundaries of the Ten Commandments, but righteousness is not a negative quality. Righteousness is living out, within the boundaries of the Ten Commandments, the two great commandments: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength. And thy neighbor as thyself. The essence of these commands is that you put your own selfish interests behind the interests of God and others. You search diligently for the way to meet the needs and please those people that God has put in your life.
A righteous person cares more for God than for himself and will sacrifice things he may want in order to please or pursue God. The righteous man puts the needs and joy of his wife ahead of himself. The righteous parents put the needs, development, and happiness of their children ahead of their own needs. The righteous citizens put the needs of their country ahead of their own needs to remain anonymous. The righteous friends put the needs of their friends ahead of their own comfort, convenience, and ease. The righteous people handle their money with God's glory in mind, not their own wants and desires.
Some people who do not go beyond the Ten Commandments think of themselves as righteous because they do not selfishly pursue sin even where it will hurt others. But this is not righteousness; it is just normal selfishness and sin inside of the wickedness barrier. Righteousness is when you pursue and please God before you pursue and please your own pleasure. Righteousness is when you meet the needs of your spouse first. Righteousness is when you give up your comfort to encourage or play with your children. Righteousness means that you are a loving person who meets the needs of the people in your life.
Notice the second phrase in this proverb when people are loving others and putting God and others ahead of their own comfort, then they are being noble in the best sense of that word. Don't build a society, family, or group of friends where that kind of behavior is put down or punished.