22 The blessing of the LORD brings wealth,
without painful toil for it.
23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes,
but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.
24 What the wicked dread will overtake them;
what the righteous desire will be granted.
25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
but the righteous stand firm forever.
26 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
so are sluggards to those who send them.
27 The fear of the LORD adds length to life,
but the years of the wicked are cut short.
28 The prospect of the righteous is joy,
but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.
29 The way of the LORD is a refuge for the blameless,
but it is the ruin of those who do evil.
30 The righteous will never be uprooted,
but the wicked will not remain in the land.
31 From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom,
but a perverse tongue will be silenced.
32 The lips of the righteous know what finds favor,
but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.
The Righteous and Wicked
The righteous and the wicked are not categories that we use very much any more. We think of choices as being good or bad based on their results. We have got the thing backwards. It should be that we seek God, he changes our heart and we therefore make good choices. Good choices actually can turn out to hurt us in an evil world. God sometimes does not allow us to see the results of a good choice. Therefore, we need to trust God to do his work without us seeing it. This tends to have us trying to guess what the outcome will be and to make pragmatic decisions. We do not think, “What is it good to do?” We think, “How will these decisions work for me?” Part of the flaw is that we start with the flawed belief that choices are neutral, or that human beings are basically good and they will naturally make good choices. The flaw is starting with self and our desires, rather than starting with God and his design.
It is true that we can see fruit from wise choices and a righteous heart. The passage above highlights all the great results. However, the thrust is not that we pursue the righteous life for its rewards. We pursue God because of the way the world is created to function. Acting in righteous ways is in harmony with Creation and will reap its rewards.
- What are the rewards of being righteous?
- What are the ‘rewards’ of being evil?
- What is a righteous person in pursuit of? What is the evil person pursuing?
- Why do you think ‘righteous’ and ‘evil’ are not words used very much in public life?
- Why don’t people think pursuing wealth, glamour, possessions, and long-life is pointless in and of itself?
Anxiety is often located in the future. We worry about things that have not yet happened, that we can not control. The above passage and its focus on being righteous, brings us back to the present. Pragmatism locates us in trying to anticipate the future. In the present, we should seek God and his righteousness and make decisions that are in accordance with that. It is faithful, then, to leave the outcome of our decisions in the hands of God rather than trying to control the future.