I think these questions come from a place of justice. And they also reflect a confusion we have in regards to right and wrong and how they should play out as opposed to how they actually play out. As young children we are told, “Cheaters never win.” But they do sometimes. Sometimes they even win the Super Bowl.
I work with a ministry that serves the homeless and poor. We offer various services, including meals, worship/preaching, clothes, groceries, etc. We discourage people from lining up for food until the preaching and altar call are done. We don’t send people home if they break this rule, but the most important thing we do is provide an environment for them to come to know Jesus and have their life changed for eternity. Oh… and we want to give some cereal and socks too. We just don’t want people to miss the most important eternal part because they are lined up to receive the temporal part.
But you know what happens. Some people are only there for the goodies, and couldn’t care less about the best. So someone who only wants groceries is at the front of that line while someone who also needs a bag of food is at the altar having a wonderful life-changing moment with God. The person who chose to do the right thing is now behind the person (or many people) who chose to do the wrong thing by breaking the rule. This can cause you to have some inner turmoil. It can make you want to throw people out of line and put the God-seekers at the front.
Most of us know a successful person who has achieved great wealth by shady means. You may have a neighbor who is extremely wealthy but isn’t saved, never prays, reads their Bible, attends church, tithes or anything that we associate with right living. Yet they are filthy rich. And yet the missionary you support in the jungles of South America is financially struggling to serve God. It just doesn’t seem right. It isn’t right… right? The ungodly person should be struggling to make their house payment, and the missionary should have more than enough to spread the Gospel. We would change it if we could. But we can’t. God can. But apparently He isn’t.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t feel the injustice. But we shouldn’t let injustices control us. We just need to understand that sometimes God will enable us to balance the scales, but many times He will just ask us to live with them as they are. In fact, He may ask us to bless them. One time when Jesus was preaching He began talking about our relationship with those who are not righteous. He knows we were created with a sense of justice, but He wanted us to see that justice and grace can work together. He said, “The Father causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)
So God knows better than we who is cheating to get to the front of the line. He knows who grew their bank account by unscrupulous means. He knows who got to the top by walking on others as a ladder. But He still gives them rain just like He does the missionary. He still provides them with sunshine just like He does you and me.
Sometimes we want to force someone into a blessed place. And honestly, sometimes that may be called for, and actually work. But generally, you cannot force someone to be blessed or to live a life that will bring the greatest blessings. The best thing is to love people wherever God has them. Don’t give up on justice. But don’t underestimate the sovereignty and providence of God. In another passage we are reminded, “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” (Romans 2:4)
Today you will meet people who seem to have beaten God’s system of right and wrong… blessing and curses. No one beats God’s system. And God doesn’t need you to balance it all out for Him. Do not compromise on conviction, but love and reach out to the ungodly. Remember, God blessed you before you were doing the right thing.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.