“Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you. Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm. Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways, for the devious person is an abomination to the LORD, but the upright are in his confidence. ” — Proverbs 3:29-32
What kind of person does the Lord bring into his confidence? This is the person the Lord considers his friend, and there is no greater honor than being a friend of the Lord.
If you are saved by Jesus, you are called his friend. Think about your friends. Aren’t they the people you love to be with the most? That’s how God feels about you if you are in Christ. And to make it even better, the uprightness required to be close to God is given to us in Christ.
Jesus said his friends are those who do what he commands. The command is to love one another with the same love with which Jesus loved you when he laid down his life for you. God chooses his friends and gives them the power to obey his commands (John 15:12-17). The upright person is the one who is a new creation in Christ and loves God and others with a transformed heart.
The Devious Person
The opposite of the upright person is the devious person. Categorically, the devious person is not a friend of the Lord. The word translated devious here could also mean crooked, perverse, or someone who is on the wrong track. They have deviated from the straight path of righteousness. Their words and actions are used for selfish purposes rather than to love others. What could be more different than the love of Christ?
An Abomination to the Lord
When someone behaves in a devious manner, it is an abomination to God. In other words, God loathes this person and their behavior (an abomination is something that causes hatred or disgust).
The word “abomination” shows up several times in Proverbs. The word is used to describe the things the Lord hates. Some of these things are haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that quickly run to evil, a false witness, one who sows discord among brothers, false weights, and those with a crooked heart.
This section lists three ways a person acts in a way that God despises. When you treat your neighbors this way, you are not loving them.
1. Planning Evil
The first is to plan evil against your neighbor. Living with or near someone requires that you can trust them. Good neighbors are those who watch your house when you are out of town, who call you when something doesn’t seem right at your house, and who day-by-day go about their lives in plain sight of you. You should not take advantage of this trusting relationship by planning some kind of evil deed against them. Do not go after their spouse or their possessions.
2. Baseless Accusations
Second, you do not bring a charge against them (“contend” has to do with making an accusation) without cause. You should not bring legal action against your neighbor when they have done nothing wrong. Frivolous lawsuits are wrong. Do not go after your neighbor’s wealth for selfish gain: that is covetousness.
3. Violent Behavior
Third, you should not envy violent people in any way. Our culture glorifies violence, whether it’s by picking aggressive leaders, making endless video games about killing, or idolizing the rich who made their money by running over whoever got in their way. We should not envy those who seem to have it made because they forced their will upon the world through violence. As James wrote, it is unmet desires that lead to murder, fights, and quarrels (James 4:1-6). Violent people take what they want by force: this is not what an upright man does. In fact, James writes that acting this way makes you an enemy of God and friend with the world (James 4:4).
Are You a Friend of God or the World?
The question to ask here is the same one James asked: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” (James 4:4). Friendship with the world is when you act according to the world’s principles and not according to God’s word.
God is jealous for you, and if you are in Christ, God has placed his Spirit in you (James 4:5). Therefore, you are a temple of his Spirit, and you are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:19). God will give you more grace (James 4:6), but you must repent and walk by the Spirit he has given.
In Christ, God has placed you in his confidence and made you his friend. By his grace, then, return that friendship by obeying his word. Love your neighbor as yourself and lay down your life for your friends. This twisted world could use a few more upright citizens of the kingdom of heaven!