Proverbs 21:4

An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.

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Everything a wicked man does is sin. God rejects his looks, heart, actions. He is deeper in trouble every day (Ro 2:5). Even innocent things like his plowing are sin (Tit 1:15-16). God once drowned the world when He saw man’s every thought was evil (Gen 6:5).

Righteousness begins in a regenerated heart that has humble thoughts and motives (Pr 4:23; 14:14; 22:11). It continues in the looks of the countenance (Pr 30:13; Is 2:11), which leads to actions that honor and please the holy God (Pr 11:20; 21:27; Ps 11:7).

If your heart is not right with God, fully obedient to Him, your actions are all sinful. What a horrible and damning thing is sin! The most innocent, noble, or religious activities become further condemnation when done without a pure heart. Read how the prophet rebuked Israel for spiritual slothfulness corrupting all they did (Hag 2:10-14).

Solomon first condemned a high look. God hates pride, so He condemns it often. Pride trusts and glories in yourself, and God hates competitors for His own glory and praise, especially you. He knows you are nothing, and you should know it also (Ps 39:5; 62:9).

God expressly hates a proud look (Pr 6:16-17). A high look is when thoughts of pride leak from your heart and affect your face, speech, and manners before Him and others. It is most despicable on the face or in the eyes of a woman, for she is further removed by office from God (Is 3:16-17; I Cor 11:3; I Tim 2:9). Let every woman lower her eyes.

Solomon then condemned a proud heart. Your first duty is to keep your heart humble before God and others. You should bow your head and confess that without mercy you are lost (Luk 18:13). You must reject your own conceit and humbly condescend to others (Ro 12:16). You must esteem others better than yourself with a lowly heart (Phil 2:3-5). If you will humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, He will exalt you (I Pet 5:6).

David, the man after God’s own heart, gave a great example. He prayed that he would not be guilty of either sin – a high look or a proud heart (Ps 131:1). Then he resolved to cut off any person in his house that had either of these sinful faults (Ps 101:5). Simply look around to realize that there are few with zeal for the Lord God like David. Most parents idolize their children and cannot imagine or stomach holy resolutions like David’s.

Solomon also condemned the plowing of the wicked. What can you learn about sin in light of the plowing of the wicked? Even natural and apparently innocent activities that are duties of God and nature become sin when done by a man with a wicked heart. Following a plow, a duty of man to feed himself, is sin when it is done by a wicked man.

Every activity of man must be done to God’s glory, which the wicked never consider (I Cor 10:31; Ps 10:4). Every activity must be done in faith, which the wicked do not have (Rom 14:23; II Thess 3:2). Every activity must include thanksgiving, which they never consider (Rom 1:21; II Tim 3:2). So even their breathing becomes a breath of damnation.

The religious activities of a wicked man are worse. His prayers are an abomination (Pr 28:9). His sacrifices are an abomination (Pr 15:8). When he sacrifices while thinking about sin, which is common, it is worse yet (Pr 21:27). What a horrible life, accumulating sins for the Day of Judgment, even when he is in church and puts money in the offering.

Why is this true? Because wicked men trust in themselves, are unthankful, and pursue their own greed and pride, rather than the glory of their Creator. God is not in all their thoughts (Ps 10:4). They use His creation for their own selfish ends. They have no regard for Him or His precepts. They ignore Him constantly and reject Him when confronted.

Before plowing, a righteous man thanks God for his and his ox’s health, sunshine, last night’s rain, the acres he owns, the opportunity to work, God’s mercy to sinners, and the hope of eternal life. While plowing, he meditates on the ox’s strength, the smell of the soil, the miracle of plant growth, the Lord’s goodness, and begs Divine mercy for more rain and greater grace. He wipes sweat away and thanks Heaven for the body’s cooling system. At the day’s end, he gives seed to a neighbor, takes a chicken to the preacher, thanks the Lord for a blessed day, reads his Bible, confesses his sins, and loves his wife.

Before plowing, a wicked man complains about the fact he has only one ox, the lack of sunshine last month, the mud from last night’s rain, the farm next door he wishes he owned, the death of his father last winter, the burden of taxes, and how life is hard. While plowing, he dreams of making more money than his brother, beating his neighbor for local councilman, and of how strong and successful he has become. Twice he swears at the sun for making the day so hot. At the day’s end, he sends the borrowing neighbor away empty, kills two chickens to glut himself, complains about how hard he worked, reads the Police Gazette, and goes to sleep thinking of his neighbor’s wife.

You should not have any more questions about the plowing of the wicked. But how do you approach each day and the duties of it? Do you approach them like the righteous man or the wicked man? Is your heart right with God, leading to humble looks and a godly perspective and purpose in all that you do? Anything less than this makes your life sin.

Reader, it is your sober duty to keep your heart pure from sin. Examine your soul to walk with God without distraction. If you allow compromise to remain, your actions and prayers become sin. And you will bring upon yourself His severe chastisement. So from the heart, in your looks, and through your actions, let all be done to the glory of God.

Christian, there is no dread here for you. With faith in Jesus Christ and confession of your sins, God will forgive and cleanse you from all sin (I Jn 1:7-9). With your heart purified by faith and zeal in the Son of God, even overlooked things will not spoil your standing before Him (I Kgs 15:14). The lawful liberty of the righteous is a great glory (Tit 1:15; Rom 14:22). Richly enjoy the life He has given you, thanking Him for every pleasure. Work hard, love your wife, and eat and drink as He directs you (Ec 9:7-10).