Ever look at the prosperity of sinners and the ungodly with the wrong set of eyes? Here's what I mean . . . it is difficult to miss the the wicked and ungodly are many times prosperous in this present world. It is also difficult to see sinners experiencing instant gratification for their sinning. Too often Christians want to keep this a secret - and not acknowledge such things. But the fact is that these things exist - and that we will have to see them as we walk through this world. The problem comes not with their existence, but rather with those times when we look at them with the wrong set of eyes.
The proverb begins, "Do not let your heart envy sinners . . . " This command would not be given to us if there were not a danger of us doing just that, envying sinners. The whole reason for celebrity magazines is to help mankind to envy sinners. The reason for the old show - "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" is to have us envy those who live that way. But the Word of God warns us - don't envy them. What is the counsel we receive from God's Word? Don't envy sinners - don't let your heart be drawn to love what they love - but live in the fear of Jehovah always!
Our lives are to be lived in the fear of Jehovah - in the fear of the Lord. How do we do this? We do it by learning wisdom from God's Word - and then allowing the Word to be the primary influence on our desires and direction in life. That Word warns us about the transitory nature of riches - as well as the fact that to whom much is given, much is required. We are warned about sexual immorality in precept and in example. The Word tells us to guard our hearts against the harlot - then gives us a front row seat to the destruction of the strongest man in history by the fleeting lies of free sex - or sex without responsibility. We watch David as he turns from the Word to his own fleshly desires. What seems tantalizing at first becomes a nightmare of lies, deception, and cover-ups later. Then the real price is paid - several times over and literally thousands of times more than his brief pleasure - as daughters are raped, sons die, and an entire nation is thrown into disarray. Yeah - think after watching several episodes of "The Lives of the Judged and Jaded," I think I've been convinced that living in the fear of the Lord always is the better choice!
But before we are left with only His judgments to learn from (which actually should be sufficient for us to learn wisdom) we are given a wonderful promise from the Lord Whom we are to fear. When we live in the fear of the Lord - surely there is a future!
The word future is so instructive! The word for "future" is "acharith" and it means, "the after-part or the latter end." The Lord is saying to us, "Look at the end of these things! Note and learn from the end of the matter." We are not to focus on the immediate moment when making a decision. Honestly, that is what often gets us in trouble. We look at the chocolate chip cookie sitting on the cookie sheet - wafting out its promise of a "toll-house" moment of pleasure - not realizing the "toll" is higher than we think until we step on the scales. (I know this routine all too well - those cookies call to me like the Sirens of Odysseus) Wisdom is seeing the end from the beginning - to see the consequences ahead of time. When we see them in our mind's eye and heart - we avoid choices that will leave us shipwrecked and without a future.
That in the promise - we will have a future - a desired latter-end in life. We'll make choices that may hurt now - but in the end we will be blessed! When we do this we will see that our hope will not be cut off. This is the problem with envying sinners and allowing their short-termed blessing to guide us into making a choice like theirs. We learn only later that the short-termed blessings of sin leave us with long-term problems. There is no long-term hope in sinful actions. There is no future in sin - ask anyone in hell.
One last encouragement . . . when sinners flaunt their envious position in the present moment . . . when they try to entice you to join them, don't do it. Don't envy their short-lived adventagious position. They are standing on a fault line of judgment. Sooner or later there is going to be an earthquake from which they cannot escape. Their ground is shifting sand and their house is going to fall. In that moment of temptation remind them of their latter end - man . . . remind yourself of your own latter end if you follow their example. There is a future - a hope. Go to the last book and read of "The Lifestyles of the Happy and Heaven-bound."