“When the wicked arise, men hide themselves; But when they perish, the righteous increase.” (Proverbs 28:28, NKJV)
We are living through a moment of social upheaval in America. To say there is only one cause would be simplistic. Scripture says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach of any people” (Prov. 14:34). We have witnessed wickedness and righteousness by people with authority and by people who live under it. Godly people pray for peace and pursue conduct that makes for peace (1 Tim. 2:1-2; Heb. 12:14). Evil increases when civil authority does not live up to its God-given work to punish evildoers and protect the innocent (Rom. 13:1-7). Sin draws a crowd of likeminded people. The righteous diminish when sin has free rein in communities and nations. Solomon observed the opposite is also true (see Prov. 28:12). The decision we must make is not to wring our hands and fret over evildoers – they will soon be removed (Psa. 37:1-2, 9-10). What we must do is “trust the Lord, and do good,” “commit your way to the Lord,” and “rest in the Lord” (Psa. 37:3, 5, 7). “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).
16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? 17 Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence. 18 If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. 19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. (Psalm 94:16–19, NKJV)
The Lord has not promised to remove Christians from the hour of trial and trouble. Indeed, He did not remove His own Son from trouble. Jesus said, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27). God’s purposes are served, even when you are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. God did not abandon His Son, and He will not abandon you. He is our refuge and strength when evildoers press upon us. He delivers us from the depths of despair. His presence, power and mercy delights the soul, especially in the face of unsettling troubles. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” … Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:35, 37).
19 Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the wicked; 20 For there will be no prospect for the evil man; The lamp of the wicked will be put out.” (Proverbs 24:19–20, NKJV)
We are tempted to fret (to become agitated, lit., “to burn”) and be envious of the wicked. Why does it seem the wicked prosper while the righteous do not? We need to step back for a moment when we begin to grieve or are moved to provocation by sinners. A compelling reason is given to prevent fretting over and being envious of the wicked person: His future is bleak. There is nothing ahead for him except corruption (Gal. 6:8). He is laying up for himself treasures on earth. But, he will soon die, and he will take nothing with him beyond the grave. His life and its evil will be extinguished. The outcome of his sinful conduct will surely be divine wrath and eternal death (Rom. 2:5; 6:23). Fretting over the evil actions and apparent advantages of the wicked distracts us from our call to live by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). So, instead of fretting when we see the temporary advantages of the wicked, let us strengthen our faith in Christ and renew our resolve to help save the lost from the utter despair awaiting them. They possess nothing to merit your envy. Do not burn in your spirit because of them. The time for honoring themselves will soon end. Then, their eternal regret begins.