Prosperity of the Wicked


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 73; 145, Zechariah 10:1-12, Galatians 6:1-10, Luke 18:15-30

For I was envious of the arrogant;
      I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

For they have no pain;
      their bodies are sound and sleek.

They are not in trouble as others are;
      they are not plagued like other people.

Therefore pride is their necklace;
      violence covers them like a garment.

Their eyes swell out with fatness;
      their hearts overflow with follies.

They scoff and speak with malice;
      loftily they threaten oppression.
– Psalm 73:3-8

When the psalmist writes of “the prosperity of the wicked,” who among us can’t relate? The world is full of people who not only get away with but profit from murder, greed, and oppression. Playing by the rules – God’s or man’s – seems to be for suckers. Evil skillfully creates new ways to seize and maintain power at the expense of the most vulnerable. The temptation to fight fire with fire is great. If good were only as conniving, ruthless, loud, and lethal as evil – as willing to do whatever it takes – wouldn’t we all be better off?

Not at all.

Our benchmark is Christ. When he told us to forgive and to turn the other cheek, he didn’t add “until it gets uncomfortable” or “until you are scared” or “until you might lose” or even “until harm threatens you or your loved ones.” Each of us is capable of living out these commands to different degrees, but the standard set by Christ does not waver.

However, let’s never confuse being servants with being subservient to anyone but God. We cry out for justice for the oppressed. We name and stand opposed to evil. We bring light to truths evil would keep in darkness. But we do these things out of love for the least among us, not for retribution or anger. The moment forgiveness is off the table, we have lost more than the battle; we have lost our souls.

Keep the faith, in all ways. While evil will prosper, it does not win unless we accept its ways as our own. You are a child of God, and nothing can take that away.

Comfort: Evil may prosper, but goodness endures.

Challenge: When you are motivated by anger or fear, take time to pray before taking action.

Prayer: Lord, where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon. Amen.

Discussion: Have you ever taken action, then realized the ends did not justify the means?

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2 thoughts on “Prosperity of the Wicked

  1. I enjoyed reading this very much. It reminded me of when I had been teaching lessons on jealousy. One day I was sitting on my porch and I was thinking of how one of my neighbors kept getting away with doing some unlawful activities and it was angering me because I knew of so many people in need who had no home or car of there own and here they were not working but living well. In that same moment I realized that I was being jealous. Not that I wanted to commit any illegal act and get away with it but that I work to a point of laying myself up for days to not even bring in enough income to care for my basic needs and they prospered without effort or car for anyone but themselves. In my envy I was being judgmental and bitter. I repented and came to an understanding that though they seemed to prosper for wicked deeds my reward comes not from my labor or from this world but from the Lord and that one day we will all stand before the Lord on judgment day. Thank you for giving me new insight.

    Liked by 1 person

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