Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways, for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord, but the upright are in his confidence (Prov 3:31-32).
Were you the one in school who got in trouble for breaking the rules? Or were you the one who faithfully followed them? When I was a dental hygiene educator, I taught college students. One of my responsibilities was to set and enforce the rules for the Clinical portion of the program. This was a very difficult job. I probably erred on the side of harshness over mercy because I was dealing with a large group of people and it was impossible to bend the rules in a “fair” way. I felt that, if the rules needed bending to be fair, we should amend the rules.
I was overly strict. Looking back, there is no other way to see it. But I had this position not very long after the time I had been a student. And I remembered the bitterness of following rules, while others broke them. This situation can be completely demoralizing: when you obey rules, out of conscience and conviction, and see others constantly abandoning them. In some places in our lives we will see this again and again. The Bible talks about this often. Seeing the “wicked prosper” can really get at us. And we are not alone, the Psalmist knew just how that felt:
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked…Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence (Psalms 37:2-3, 12-13).
The nature of our fallen world is that evil does prosper at times. We see liars, getting caught and not punished. We see tax evaders getting their back taxes reduced or waived. We see corrupt politicians getting re-elected. And sometimes we feel like the older brother of the Prodigal Son – asking ourselves, “Where is my reward for doing good?” [The elder brother] answered his father, ‘˜Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends (Luke 15:11).
What I have finally realized is that there is no sense in using both God’s standard and the World’s standard at the same time. We cannot follow God’s Standards of behavior, but use the World’s standards to measure our success. Sometimes it is easy to lose the eternal perspective, to forget that we are “not of this world” (John 17:16).
If we are following God’s way in order to get ahead in this world, we will find that this is impossible. If we are following God’s ways in order to please God, we will find that this is peace. Remember Samuel’s search for King Saul’s replacement: But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
This is the important teaching to give our children: Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! (Psalm 37:7). When we do good, doing it for God’s sake and to His glory, will satisfy. Doing good, for earthly gain, will leave us disillusioned. Jesus explained the reason for this: Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world” (John 18:36).
Today, let’s try to keep the eternal perspective, keeping our minds on eternal rewards, “that neither moths nor rust destroys” (Matt 6:20). And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Gal 6:9).
Britta ~ I am justAgirl…just like you!