2 Corinthians 9
Do not fret because of evildoers
or be envious of the wicked,
for the evildoer has no future hope,
and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.
Proverbs seems to present a rather simplistic approach to life: those who live a wise and righteous life will prosper whereas the foolish and wicked will not. Here are just a few of the many proverbs throughout the book that point us towards this conclusion:
‘The house of the righteous contains great treasure,
but the income of the wicked brings ruin.’
‘Whoever pursues righteousness and love
finds life, prosperity and honour.’
‘The greedy stir up conflict,
but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.’
(See also 11:18, 12:11, 16:20, 19:3 & 21:5 for some more examples.)
Unfortunately, our experience of life tells us things are not quite so simple. But actually, even though it is not immediately apparent as we read through it, Proverbs is well aware of this reality. The verses 19-20 in today’s chapter put this otherwise simplistic analysis of life into perspective.
The author of this proverb recognises that there is something in the lives of the wicked that we might be tempted to envy. We can see that clearly in our world today. There is an advantage to be gained by unscrupulous living. Whether that is at the top levels of business and politics, or our colleagues and neighbours who live following a slightly different moral code, all around us people seem to be profiting despite their rejection of God.
Have you ever wondered whether your decision-making, career progression, or social life might just be a little easier if you were not a Christian trying to live obedient to God’s Word? God’s Word says “no!” to that kind of thinking! And for a good reason. Verse 20—as well as the constant message throughout all of Scripture—reminds us that the prosperity of the unrighteous will only be short-lived. There will be an end to all evil. And on that day, we certainly won’t envy those facing God’s just judgement.
‘For look, the day is coming, burning like a furnace, when all the arrogant and everyone who commits wickedness will become stubble. The coming day will consume them,” says the LORD of Armies, “not leaving them root or branches.’ (Malachai 4:1)
So, until then, continue to live the wise and righteous life that Proverbs advocates. Often that will result in a comfortable, happy, God-honouring life. And if not, ‘rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven’ (Matthew 5:12).
I want to close with the lyrics of a new song we learnt earlier this term. May these words be our comfort when the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer.
Though the dark is overwhelming
And the brightest lights grow dim
Though the Word of God
Is trampled on by foolish men
Though the wicked never stumble
And abound in every place
We will all be humbled when we see Your face
When We See Your Face – Sovereign Grace