“The way to keep a path open is to walk on it”. When you first read this proverb, like many of them (including some in the Book of Proverbs) it seems obvious and not very deep. Of course the way to keep a path open is to walk on it – what’s so significant about that? The significance is not in the statement of fact, but in our reaction to it – from our thoughts on what it means in relation to our lives.
When I first heard this, I thought of a path through tall grass along the edge of a lake. Here and there the path veers off to a clear fishing spot on the bank. Over time if you don’t walk on it and keep it open, it will become covered with grass, weeds and thorns. At some point, trees can even start covering up the clear spots.
Several other “paths” in life came to mind: The path between me and God; The path between me and my wife and family; The path between my house and the Church; The path between me and my Brothers and Sisters in Christ; The path of service; The path of obedience; The paths of righteousness.
All of these paths must be travelled constantly to keep them open. If we neglect them they can become covered in weeds and thorns, making them more difficult to walk. If we neglect them too long we may find that trees have grown up and obscured the paths completely.
The mention of the “paths of righteousness” is meant to bring to mind the 23rd Psalm: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake” (v3). I believe that tells us why we are to continue walking these paths to keep them open. Not just because they’re “good” things to do, but we are to keep them open for God’s name’s sake. All that we do should bring glory to God. Allowing weeds, thorns and trees to cover a path we should be walking doesn’t bring glory to Him, especially if it is the path between us and God.