"For though the righteous fall seven times, they will rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes." Proverbs 24:16 (NIV)
I came across this verse (or, more accurately, was reminded of) earlier today when I was doing some reading and it's been something I've been thinking about since. It struck me that the author of this proverb assumed that everyone - including the righteous* - would stumble and fall in their lives. The difference between the righteous and the wicked is whether they get up again after the fall.
I know that's different than how I've often thought of it. I've often thought that the righteous were those who didn't fall and the wicked were those who did. I've often wondered who could really be considered righteous because all of the people I know have stumbled and fallen at some point in their lives.
But that's where a different understanding of righteous comes in - the understanding portrayed in this verse: "for though the righteous fall seven time, they will rise again." When the righteous fall, they don't stay down - they get back up and keep going.
I don't know about you, but that realization has been a bit of a relief for me. It gives me hope that life as a follower of Christ is possible. And it reminds me of God's incredible grace for us. We may fall, sometimes pretty spectacularly, but we can repent of what we need to and get up and keep going.
*Since righteous isn't a word we commonly use these days, I looked it up to help me better understand what the author of this proverb meant. According to dictionary.com it means: "characterized by uprightness or morality; morally right or justifiable; acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous."