“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; for surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off” (Prov. 23:17-18).
It is sometimes tempting to think that sinners are having all the fun. They do whatever they want, watch whatever they want, say whatever they want, and look, they aren’t dead, they seem to doing well, succeeding in life, and having fun. And meanwhile, being a Christian means not doing a bunch of things I really want to do, and apparently not having any fun at the same time. And so we are tempted to envy sinners.
But there are two really good answers to this apparent temptation. First, they aren’t really having that much fun. Abortion, pornography, abuse, adultery, divorce, estrangement from children, bitterness, alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, suicide, rage, murder – they aren’t really having fun. Oh, sure, it’s fun for about 10 minutes, like the feeling that you’re flying in the middle of a free fall. But they’re not really flying; they’re falling, falling fast.
And this leads to the second answer, which is that it’s foolish to judge by this life only. There is a hereafter. There is a judgement because there is a God. Doing whatever you want and expecting to find joy is like rummaging around in a trash can and expecting to find dinner.
Joy is finding goodness and taking pleasure in it. But this presupposes that goodness actually exists in the world, that some things are good and somethings are, well, bad. Otherwise, there’s no such thing as joy. But if there is such a thing as joy and therefore such a thing as goodness, then there is a Source of goodness, Standard, a Judge over all, and in the end there will be a reckoning.
Those who pursue real joy, real goodness in this world, under the blessing of the source of all Goodness – their hope will not be cut off. But those who insist on decorating prison cells and calling that freedom and fun, they will also get exactly what they asked for.
Never forget: the Bible does not teach that God is the great Grinch in the Sky, fuming about people trying to have fun. No, that’s the devil, only he knows he has to sell his despair in bottles labeled fun. But God is the One who invented this place. He loaded it with good things and created us to enjoy it all. At His right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash
Valerie (Kyriosity) says
Could you post your confession prayer from yesterday, too?
Here you go:
Father, we confess that we have envied sinners and we have not been zealous for the fear of the Lord. We have forgotten that there will be a judgment and we have despaired, sometimes believing that our hope will be cut off. We confess that this is ultimately to doubt Your goodness and your good intentions toward us. Like our first parents, you have surrounded us with goodness and lovingkindness and blessings without number and then when there is one thing that you say we must not do, we forget all your benefits. Like spoiled children, we fuss and complain and tell lies about You in our hearts to justify our sin. Father, we confess that this envy, this forgetfulness, this despair, and this despising of Your goodness is terrible sin. And we confess that we deserve to die because of it. We deserve to have our hope cut off. But we confess all of this as sin – sin that Jesus bled and died for, and so we are bold to ask for forgiveness for it all. Cleanse us and wash us whiter than snow, and pour out the Spirit of Comfort and Contentment and Joy in our hearts so that we would be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day. Father, we know that if we in the church regard sin in our hearts this prayer will be ineffectual, and we will not be salt and light in the world. And so we confess our individual sins to you now. Selah.
Valerie (Kyriosity) says