Category Archives: The Wicked

Hope Springs Eternal

Proverbs 14:32

The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.

The word ‘hope’ leaps out at me from the above verse, and I have had to stop and consider where my hope lies. At the time of writing I am on the opposite side of the Atlantic to home, but hoping to be back home in about thirty-six hours time. I hope that I can find some time to spend with my family this Christmas despite the intense pressure of my workload.

As Christmas approaches many people will be hoping they receive gifts they desire. In our consumer driven western society advertisements shout loudly about the things we can have. We easily forget those who have little hope. Equally, it is easy to ignore the wickedness we see plastered across our television screens be it wrong lifestyles, victims of conflict, big business acting fraudulently, dishonest politicians, etc.

Jesus told a parable about a rich man who chose to ignore the wickedness of society that left a starving diseased beggar outside his house. The beggar possessed one thing the rich man did not have. The beggar had hope. It was probably his only possession. You can read the story in Luke 16:19-31.

My worry is that we can become blind like the rich man to the extent that our possessions become more important than our hope, and the promise of eternal life in exchange for a life surrendered to our Father in Heaven. The danger increases at Christmas to the extent that we may not even notice the starving diseased beggar, whoever or whatever he or she may be.

What are you hoping for this Christmas?

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

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The Evil Dead

Proverbs 14:19

‘Evil men will bow down in the presence of the good,
    and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.’

Slim Consolation

The Bible is full of good honest people asking the question, “Why do bad people prosper, and good people suffer?” This is a question that still haunts us now. The song writer Josh Garrels quips in his song ‘Farther Along’ – ‘Tempted and tried, I wonder why the good man dies, bad man thrives and Jesus cries cus He loves them both.’ The Bible also tells us that the bad, or evil will get their comeuppance. But when we are seeing the evil thrive very close to home while we also struggle to live the way we’d like, not to mention all our brothers and sisters all over the world facing persecution for Christ, this can be hard to swallow. This verse may provide some comfort in the thought that one day things will be made right, but what about now?

The Inconvenient Truth

Romans 11 verse 14 tells us that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, whether they want to or not! One day you may be falling to your knees in worship while the person next to you is having an uncomfortable moment of realisation and regret. What will you think in that moment? Will you be glad that the evil are finally about to get their just desserts? Or will you be wishing you had done more to help people see Jesus in this life so they are not surprised in the next?


Two Pursuers

Proverbs 13:21

21 Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.

Yesterday, Jason discussed how bad company will make us bad ourselves.

To go a step further, when we live a life of sin, whatever that may look like, we tend to gather like-minded people around us, reinforcing our sinful behaviors. Eventually, we have to deal with our sin.

If all we have around us is our sin and those who promote it, what should we expect? That everything will be alright? That we will never have problems?

This verse tells us that, in fact, the consequences of our sin track us down. The Apostle Peter told us in 1 Peter 5:8 that the Devil is actually seeking us out to destroy us!

Whatever vice or sin we have in our life is a beacon for Satan, calling him after us to pursue us and drag us deeper to our death. Things will only get worse the longer we live in our sin. Eventually, it leads to not only a literal death but eternal destruction.

The Other Pursuer

Those who live a life of righteousness, a life given to God, can expect a different outcome.

While a righteous person may interact with the more sinful, they are not tainted by that sin. Instead, they more closely associate with those who promote righteousness, or at the very least keep God central in their lives.

An interesting thing happens when we pursue God:

7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
James 4:7-8

Do you see it?

Not only does God actively pursue those who pursue Him, but the Devil will actually run away!

We must remember, however, that he only runs away because he has been close. The more we walk with God, the more the Devil will want to break us apart.

The great news is that as we pursue God, we have God defending us.

Ultimately, we are repaid with eternal life.

Precious Savior, thank You for rescuing us from our sin and the grip of the Devil. Help us see You pursuing us. Give us the faith to pursue You. Give us the strength to resist the Devil when he comes after us, for by Your power he will flee!


Rejoicing Light

Proverbs 13:9

“The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.” 

What a Storm!

Hurricane Sandy (AP Photo/Weather Underground)

“Superstorm” Sandy was a monster storm that stretched over the entire eastern coast of North America, bringing hurricane winds, torrential rain, 13 ft. storm surges, and even two feet of snow in some places. Over 60 million people suffered its effects, the worst being in the north where states suffered tens of billions of dollars worth of damage. Some people called it a “Frankenstorm.”

There for a while, from Florida to Maine, the sun was hidden by clouds. Rain fell by the gallon as coastal towns were drowned with swelling tides. But amazingly, no matter how hard it rained, no matter how high the waves, it didn’t put out the sun. Go figure.

Light Source

The difference between the righteous and the wicked is their source of light. As with the sun, the Light of the righteous is far beyond the reach of nature. No storm, no matter how big, can quench its flame. It may be hidden from view at times, but it is always there, and always will be.

The wicked, on the other hand, light their own lamp. In other words, the source of their “light” comes from within, below the storm, subject to both torrent and tempest. It will go out, eventually.

“Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD And rely upon his God. Look, all you who kindle a fire, Who encircle yourselves with sparks: Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled–This you shall have from My hand: You shall lie down in torment.” – Isaiah 50:10-11 NKJV

 Still There was Light

Years and years ago, back when I lived in Kentucky, God allowed a “Frankenstorm” to hit the coasts of my life. The storm was so big and lasted so long, literally nothing of my own making remained standing. FEMA couldn’t even help me.

At one point it was so bad; it was so dark, that I literally raised my fist to heaven, cursed my God, and begged Him to do what I was too afraid to do. I told Him I hated Him and wanted nothing more to do with Him. It was a bad, bad storm.

Yet….(isn’t that a great word?)…Yet, even in the middle of the darkness, there was a Flame that could not be quenched. Even as I cursed my Heavenly Father, inside I could hear a still, small Voice whispering, “I understand…I know…It’s OK…I’m here…Let it out…I still love you…I’m not going anywhere.”

If you could see me crying right now…it’s hard to see the computer screen.

The light of the righteous rejoiceth…


Navigate Wisely

Proverbs 13:6

“Righteousness keepeth [him that is] upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.”

Choices

On the night of 13 January 2012 the captain of the cruise ship Costa Concordia chose to deviate from the agreed course for his ship to bring the ship close to the island of Isola del Giglio. He should have known better. The ship hit a reef. The hull was breached and the ship began to take on water, eventually listing to starboard and running completely aground. If the captain had chosen instead to remain on the right course the ship would have remained upright and lives would not have been lost.

Life presents us with many choices. From an early age we learn that some choices are better than others. Some choices make life easier, some make life more difficult. Some choices bring us praise, while other choices bring us trouble. The captain of the Costa Concordia may have thought that giving his passengers a treat by sailing close to shore would bring him praise. Instead it brought him trouble, and continues to do so.

Righteousness or Wickedness?

Righteousness is a word that is commonly associated with religion. It is defined by Merriam-Webster as ‘acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin.’ Deliberately seeking to be righteous in the way that we think, speak and live out our lives provides a level of protection against bad choices, defined in Proverbs 13:6 as ‘wickedness.’ The attraction of sin is sometimes overpowering and we need to be able to defend ourselves against the bad choices that mislead us and misdirect us. Make the wrong choice and it will eventually, if not immediately, cause us harm.

Which Way?

The Hebrew word for way used in this verse may be translated as a road, or a course as in the case of a ship. We are all on a journey. We are free to choose which road or course we follow, but to maintain the right course requires effort and commitment. For a ship’s officer it is necessary to make regular course adjustments to counter the effects of currents and wind. Course alterations may be required to avoid dangerous reefs and shallow water. It is essential to make frequent checks on the ship’s position to ensure that it is still on course.

A good navigator is always alert to dangers and will not sail too close to them. A good navigator aims to bring the ship safely home to harbor, not end up aground on some foreign reef.

Photo/news story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/15/costa-concordia-disaster-transport-titanic

 


I Was Despicable

Proverbs 13:5

“A righteous [man] hateth lying: but a wicked [man] is loathsome, and cometh to shame.”

Loathsome Lies and Shame

I have shared before that as a child and teenager I had a habit of stretching the truth, spreading rumors, and flat-out lying. I was rather despicable.

In truth, I told these stories and fabrications to satisfy my own needs.

My need to feel important. (People actually listened to me!)

My need to feel accepted. (People listening felt like people liking me!)

My need to control my life. (That big lie we all believe at some point in our lives.)

Many times, I got caught in my deception. I felt shame and guilt. It led to hating people more and more.

Hating … in a good way

I also have shared before that  because of my deceitful tongue, I learned the importance of being open with people.

I started out hating people, because I felt that no one understood me and no one wanted to be with me.

I learned to hate those things that pushed people farther away. I learned how much God hates sin, and I wanted to hate what He hates.

Several chapters ago, we discussed some things God hates: specifically “lying lips”.

We should hate lies. We should love honesty and openness. Otherwise, we will find ourselves coming to shame and being hated.

Good Father, thank You for Your truth and confronting us in our lies. Thank You for Your forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Forgive those who continue in lies. Help us learn to hate anything that goes against Your truth.


You Think You’re Better than Me?

Proverbs 12:26

“The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.”

I’m No Better

How many times have you been told that you should never think of yourself as better than anyone else? I have to remind myself of that every time I get behind the wheel of a car. You may have to be reminded every time you go through the checkout isle at the grocery store.

So, if we are to believe that we are all human and no better than our neighbor, why does today’s proverb say that “the righteous is more excellent than his neighbor?” Maybe it would help to look at some other ways this could be translated.

Three Versions

The English Standard Version reads, “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Now, let’s read what the Holman Christian Standard says: “A righteous man is careful in dealing with his neighbor, but the ways of the wicked lead them astray.”

Finally, the Revised Standard Version says, “A righteous man turns away from evil, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Even though the last part of the verse remains consistent, the first part does not. What’s the deal?

Translating

I am no Hebrew scholar by any definition of the term. However, if you were to look at the Hebrew text for this proverb you would find that there are only 6 words. What is interesting is that it takes anywhere from 15 to 19 words to say the equivalent in English.  The key is “equivalent.”

Interpreters of Scripture sometimes have to translate meaning, not just word for word definitions. And when this happens, the idea of what the original is saying may take more than just a few words to express. That is possibly why there are so many different versions of this one verse.

What’s the Idea?

Well, the idea of this verse is not that we as believers should think of ourselves as better than anyone else, but that the righteous should care about where the unrighteous are heading.

The contrast between the two parallel parts of verse 26 is meant to highlight who cares more for his friends – the righteous man. To put the KJV in a way that compares more with the other versions, it is saying that the heart of the righteous and the way he cares for his friends is much different than the wicked man who only wants to deceive and lead astray.

The righteous man is not “better” than his neighbor; he only cares about where his neighbor is going.

A Prayer: Lord, help us to be good neighbors. Help us to care about others and guide them to You. Don’t let us lead others astray.