“Like a trampled spring and a polluted well
Is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.”
There are people who look to us for nourishment. People whose hungry eyes look to us with longing for the sustenance to help them make it through another day. People who would grow weak and perhaps even become ill and die without the nourishment we can provide. Yes, there are people whose lives are nourished by ours. People who drink from the fountain of our example, eat the bread of our influence, and long for the fruit of our praise.
The writer of Proverbs likens the life of the righteous man to water, a source of strength and refreshment to life’s weary travelers. If only we knew how many people draw from the well of our life. If only we knew the numbers of people who depend upon the consistent purity of our water. If only we knew.
On occasion we are made aware of how others have been refreshed by us through expressions like: “You are a blessing to me,” or “I have been greatly encouraged by you,” or “I appreciate you.” These are indications of the fact that other people’s lives are indeed nourished by ours. That others draw from the well of our example. That many drink from the stream of our influence.
It is therefore, incumbent upon us to carefully guard ourselves from contamination, lest we become a source of injury to others. There are two sources of contamination that we must guard against.
First, we must guard against the contamination that comes through compromise with the wicked. The term “wicked” is a general term that refers to those who are out of touch with God. Such compromise introduces foul elements into the water, elements that make it muddy and unclear.
Second, we must guard against the contamination that comes through cowardice, or through giving in to the demands of the wicked. Such cowardice allows the wicked to pollute the water with impurities. The contamination of the water may be evident by a change in color or by a foul odor. And if the contamination in the water is bad enough it may kill those who partake. It may lead men to apostasy or keep men from ever coming to faith in Christ.
The contamination however, may be present but not noticeable at all. It may not be strong enough to kill but may simply lower the standard of health in those who partake. It may cause men to have an unsteady walk or to stumble. It may rob men of health and cripple them with ineffectiveness.
And so, we have a responsibility to guard the purity of our water. There are people who watch us and notice what we do and how we do it and why we do it. There are people who look to us for the encouragement to go on, for the reassurance that life’s obstacles can be overcome, and for a greater understanding of how to live life in terms pleasing to God.
Jesus said that salt that has become tasteless “is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men” (Matthew 5:13). And so with water that has become polluted. May our lives be a refreshing drink of holy water to life’s weary travelers.