For the Lord grants wisdom!
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.
He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
He guards the paths of the just
and protects those who are faithful to him.
My grandfather was the greatest fan of baseball I ever knew. To be honest, I don't know if he even had a favorite team. He loved the game itself. He once told me that at a baseball game, a runner slid into third base and the umpire called him, rightly so, "Safe!" However, with equal enthusiasm, signaled "out." The fans couldn't hear the call, but they saw the sign. He told the runner to go sit on the bench because he was out. Under protest, the runner said, "but you said I was safe!" The umpire replied, "Sure I did. But all those fans saw me call you out."
Perception can be everything. The opinion of the crowd can often matter more to us than the opinion of one person or our very integrity. We can be tempted to ignore what is good or right or true in favor of what keeps us from looking silly, foolish, or wrong in the eyes of others, even if they are strangers. For some of us, this means speaking up when people say things that are cruel, fowl, racist, or false. For some of us, it's remaining silent when people call our faith into question. Or we may stay silent when we benefit from an error, a mistake, or a system that ignores oppressed people we don't know or actively dislike. My teenagers will sometimes wear or not wear clothing appropriate to the weather or a specific event to gain the approval of their peers. And even adults may skip wearing masks or gloves to protect the health of others, if we fear we will be inconvenienced or ridiculed.
In Proverbs, we are called to show our love for neighbor and faithfulness to God by living with integrity. This is a call to honesty, to humility, admitting fault, speaking up for what is right, and enduring shame or ridicule to live with compassion and obedience to the guidance and authority of God and wise leaders. The runner my grandfather spoke of acted with integrity and obeyed the bad call, but also spoke up for what is right. But the umpire was more concerned with his reputation and looking foolish than acting with integrity. We must always be careful to seek to do what is right for others and not convenient for ourselves only.