The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin.
What will you accomplish today? The world has righteous men and wicked men. They both rise each day to labor at school, at employment, and at other things. The righteous man’s efforts lead to godliness and life. The wicked man’s efforts lead to sin and death.
There is no neutral ground between these two men. You are either righteous or wicked. Your efforts are either leading you to life or death. What about you, dear reader? If you are living wickedly, even the most innocent or neutral activity is sin to God (Pr 21:4).
Solomon’s proverbs often have parallel contrasting statements. By comparing the two statements, you can find the proverb’s full intent. This proverb has three comparisons. Labour is compared to fruit, the righteous to the wicked, and life to sin. Comparing labour and fruit indicates a consideration of both the effort and the effect of the two lifestyles. Comparing life and sin shows both the nature and effect of the two lifestyles.
Therefore, you can conclude that Solomon blessed and commended the lifestyle of the righteous, where their efforts and the effects of those efforts tend toward godliness and life. And he condemned and warned against the choices and activities of the wicked, because their efforts and the effects of those efforts tend toward sin, trouble, and death. The proverb is a warning that your lifestyle determines how your efforts will affect you.
This axiom of wisdom – righteousness brings life and wickedness death – is not always visible. Sometimes the wicked look like they live well (Ps 37:35; 50:16-21; 73:3-14). Sometimes the righteous seem to be the only ones suffering (Ps 34:19; Acts 14:22). But the wicked will be brought down to destruction and hell, and the righteous will be lifted up above them – sometimes in this life – always in the next (Ps 37:36; 50:22; 73:15-20).
Another axiom says you cannot escape the consequences of your actions. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal 6:7). But your deceitful heart will lie to you against God (Pr 12:15; 26:12,16; Jer 17:9). The devil will throw fiery darts of lies into your mind (Eph 6:16; Gen 3:4). And the world’s lies agree with them both (I Jn 2:15-17).
Success before God and men depends on laboring by the rules of wisdom and truth. If you cheat or compromise the rules, you will suffer by being justly chastened or judged for wickedness. Sin does not pay; it destroys and kills. Prosperity is easy, if you keep the rules (Pr 3:13-18; 8:12-21; 13:15; Ps 1:1-6; 19:11; 106:3; 112:2; Jas 1:25; I Pet 3:10-12).
Life in the next world also depends on working by rules of wisdom and truth, otherwise you cannot expect eternal life (Matt 7:21; Jn 6:27; Gal 6:8; I Tim 6:17-19; Heb 5:9). The proof of your election and guarantee of heaven is by doing the things God has specified for His children, and you should be very diligent about them (I Thes 1:2-4; II Pet 1:5-11).