7 Be still before the Lord,
and wait for him.
Don’t get upset when someone gets ahead—
someone who invents evil schemes.
8 Let go of anger and leave rage behind!
Don’t get upset—it will only lead to evil.
9 Because evildoers will be eliminated,
but those who hope in the Lord—
they will possess the land.
The Bible is full of cautions about envying the wicked. If you read Psalm 73, for example, it’s all about the pain that comes from envying those who have gotten ahead through injustice and wrongdoing. It talks of the bitterness that arises from watching others succeed when we feel like we are doing our best and still just muddling along. So envy is out. That much should be clear to us.
But this Psalm isn’t about envy, it’s about anger. It’s about what happens when our indignation begins to rise at those who do wrong and profit by it. One would think that indignation at wrongdoing would be a good thing, right?
I saw a meme recently that said: “Sometimes you just gotta let God fix it, because if you fix it, you’re going to jail.” I think that’s about as close to the meaning of this text as you can get.
There is such a thing as righteous indignation – especially when defending the rights of others. But there’s also unrighteous anger, which often arises when we seek to “get what’s ours,” sometimes by whatever means necessary.
Let today’s scripture be a caution to us: the way forward toward the things we desire is never by forgetting that God exists. We don’t make progress by abandoning our principles. Instead, we trust God to uphold and bless us in our pursuit of righteousness. Neither envy nor anger is the answer, but instead patience and trust in our God who has shown us the way, the truth, and the life in Jesus Christ.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Are there people in your life or in the world whose success causes you to feel envy, anger, or indignation? Do you ever wonder whether taking the “high road” is worth it? When you feel like maybe it isn’t, ask yourself: Can you actually imagine yourself ever doing the things you see others doing to get ahead? Allow the answer to this question to reaffirm your belief in your humanity and your commitment to Christ’s way.
Prayer: God, when we are frustrated and struggling to believe that your righteousness is worthwhile, help us to see your light on our path once more. Don’t allow us to abandon our principles for the sake of progress. Amen.
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