The wicked desireth the net of evil men: but the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.
What are your desires toward others? How do you affect them? A wicked man wants to harm others for his own malicious ambition, and he envies those that are skilled in doing so. But a righteous man has an internal rule of love, which bears good fruit in the lives of others. As the wicked seek to destroy and kill, so the righteous seek to help and nurture.
The greatest evidence and measure of a child of God is love of others, not faith. Devils have much faith (Jas 2:19), charity is greater than faith (I Cor 13:13), and only faith that works by love is worth anything (Gal 5:6; Jas 2:14-26). Loving others proves your love of God and your eternal life (John 13:35; I John 2:7-11; 3:14-19; 4:7-8,12,16,20-21; 5:1-3). It is the second commandment and includes all the law of God (Matt 22:40; Gal 5:14).
All men are born wicked – filled with envy, malice, and hatred (Eph 2:1-3; Titus 3:3). But God has chosen His elect to salvation and given them a new heart that loves brother, neighbor, and enemy (Col 3:8-15; I Thess 4:9-10). When walking in the Spirit and fulfilling their purpose, they serve others with fervent love (Acts 20:35; Gal 5:22-26).
A wicked man is greedy and selfish, intent on using other people for his own goals (Pr 1:10-16; Ps 10:2-11). He enjoys watching other reprobates catch and use their victims, and he wants to learn and perfect their methods (Pr 4:14-17; 24:1-2). He continually thinks up new ways to harm others and take away what they have (Ps 140:1-5).
Amnon greedily desired the net of Jonadab to molest his virgin sister (II Sam 13:1-5). Rehoboam listened to young, foolish friends, who suggested the net of intimidation (I Kgs 12:1-14). Demetrius the silversmith used the net of financial gain from false religion to provoke his previous competitors (Acts 19:23-28). And various factions of the Jews desired the nets their peers used against the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt 12:14; 22:34).
The openly wicked have not changed. From whoremongers to whisperers, and anything between, sinners still desire the methods of other sinners. Adultery, financial scams, and rumormongering are now passionately pursued online. The entertainment industry has glamorized wickedness, so the whole nation can desire the nets of evil men (Rom 1:32).
And neither have the religious wicked changed. They still compromise truth to catch and destroy men (Mat 23:15; Rom 16:17-18; II Cor 2:17; II Tim 2:15-18; 3:13). Many pastors and churches crave the nets of the seeker sensitive gurus to ensnare as many as possible with contemporary Christianity and growth at any cost (I Tim 6:3-5; II Tim 3:1-9; 4:1-4).
But righteous men are very different. They bear fruit of peace and righteousness in the lives of others (Pr 10:21; 11:30; Jas 3:17-18). And this ambition and result of their lives comes from the holy root in their inward parts (I Jn 3:9). They understand the purpose of a local church is for members to help one another spiritually (Heb 3:12-13; 10:23-25). If they use nets, they use them to become fishers of men for Jesus Christ’s sake (Matt 4:19).
What is your fruit, reader? Are you a tree of life to others? Do they benefit by your loving help? Will you be sorely missed at your funeral for spiritual reasons? Or will you be barely missed due to your lack of fruit? What will you do today to show God and all good men that you have the root of the righteous? Let Phebe be your guide (Rom 16:1-2).
When all is said and done, there is only one man that truly bore the fruit of the righteous, from a perfect root – the man Christ Jesus. Those that came before and after Him were thieves: they came to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:1-10; Jer 23:1-40). But He is the Good Shepherd that cares for His sheep, even unto death (John 10:11-16).