Author: Bob Terhune
I don’t know about you but sometimes I find myself wondering about how people whose actions most of us would consider “bad” actually end up winning. We all see it in sports, politics and very often in business. Even though I retired several years ago and don’t have to deal with those types of business people anymore, I still wonder occasionally about the influence they are having.
Proverbs 24 has a lot to say about evildoers; folks who do those things not in accordance with God’s will. The first thing is that we should resist the temptation to model their behavior. “Don’t envy evil people or desire their company. For their hearts plot violence, and their words always stir up trouble.” (24.1-2) For most of us, this admonition is fairly straightforward and makes a lot of sense and is something that we see as the right thing to do.
Furthermore we will readily agree with verse 8 that talks about those who plan evil: “A person who plans evil will get a reputation as a troublemaker. The schemes of a fool are sinful; everyone detests a mocker.” (24.8-9)
We also are solidly behind the thoughts of verse 19 as we try not to let their actions cause us grief: “Don’t fret because of evildoers; don’t envy the wicked. For evil people have no future; the light of the wicked will be snuffed out.” In fact a lot of the passages in Proverbs note that the wicked will suffer the consequences of their actions. (24.19-20)
But how do we handle verses 17 and 18. “Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall; don’t be happy when they stumble. For the LORD will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them.” (24.17-18)
I am probably not alone in saying that it is challenging not to take some comfort when someone who has done wrong “gets what they deserve.” I think the point being made in verses 17 and 18 is that we should work to make sure that our hearts are in the right place and leave judgement to God. “Fear God” is one of the recurring themes in Proverbs and is repeated at the end of this section in conjunction with the admonition to let God deal with those who do evil.
So what’s the bottom line about how to deal with people who do bad things; don’t envy their success, don’t worry about their impact on you and finally don’t rejoice when things go bad for them. Trust that God has it under control.