Good People Get Good Things

by Mar 7, 2024Christian living, Devotional, Proverbs, Wisdom0 comments

“For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.” – Proverbs 2:21-22

As a child, I loved watching superhero cartoons, but adults often find the storylines flimsy and repetitive. The hero foils the villain and saves the earth from the death laser for one more week. As you mature, you want more suspense, more complexity, more uncertainty…or do you?

George R.R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones crafted his stories with a nihilistic approach. He wanted them to feel more realistic, more authentic. Every character, no matter how good, noble, or enjoyable could be wiped out at any time. That way, he said, when tension and danger rose, his readers would know “he was playing for keeps.”

Even without Martin’s off-limits sexual content, I would not be able to stomach such a world for long. God has given us a longing for justice, for the triumph of good. We love rewatching or rereading simple stories with happy endings because there’s a deep comfort and safety that comes from knowing that it’s all going to turn out okay. God wants his children to walk through life that way.

Proverbs—like the one above—can be dreadful when wielded improperly. That’s one of the chief cautions of Job. His friends have a naïve and simplistic view of the world. Good people get good things, bad people get bad things. You’re suffering…you must have done something bad. You might think, What a childish response! But can you blame them?

Most world religions function the same. In Hinduism, there’s the added explanation of paying for what you did in a past life. People are so committed to this formula that they’ll find a way to stand by it in the face of objective contradictions. Even Christians who know better can’t always shake the perception that good deeds yield a good life. And then there’s the Bible itself. What do we do with blanket statement proverbs like this?

Two principles to bear in mind. One is that Proverbs often contain wisdom meant to describe the way the world works, most of the time. And most of the time, living with integrity turns out pretty well. Usually, illegal arms dealers do not live long, blissful lives, surrounded by beloved friends and family.

The second principle centers on salvation in Jesus, and zooms out to eternity. In the long run, the “land” which people want to inhabit will be the new heavens and the new earth. The righteous and the upright aren’t people whose good karma outweighs their bad. If you’ve believed in Jesus, He’s given you his integrity. You are upright because of faith.

Even if you feel life as one long journey through the valley of tears, Jesus is making it a place with springs of strength because of His commitment to you. (Ps 84:6) In the end, it all does work out. The bad guys fade, and the redeemed guys shine brighter.

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