"LORD, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy?" Jeremiah 12:1 (NLT)
Have you ever noticed that it seems that people who do bad things have great lives, and people who are committed to doing right have no luck? Why does it appear this way? Shouldn't individuals get punished for wrongdoing instead of life rewarding them. If God is good, why do the good suffer more than the bad?
The good news is that these thoughts are natural and people have asked them for ages. Jeremiah, who wrote our verse over a thousand years ago, also asked this question of God. Jeremiah didn't stop there; He demanded that God deal with them harshly.
Here's how he puts it:
"Drag these people away like sheep to be butchered. Set them aside
to be slaughtered!" (Jeremiah 12:3).
This is a man of God saying this! Do you relate? Do you ever say things like, "I hope they get what they deserve?" "Serves them right for ..." I'm glad they ..." These comments are human and understandable, but not Godly. They are not the things God would say about other people. God created man to be with Him forever and is broken hearted over the sin that separates and eternally condemns.
Look at the following scriptures and what they have to say about God's desire to extend mercy and forgiveness over judgment and condemnation:
Isaiah 55:7 (NLT)
Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
Ezekiel 12:23 (NLT)
Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 (NLT)
This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)
The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
1 Timothy 2:4 (NLT)
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
Matthew 9:13 (NLT)
Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: 'I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.' For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.
It is evident from these verses that God doesn't delight in the lostness and brokenness of man. He is broken over man's brokenness and we should be too. The reason we get angry at the success of people who do bad things is because we have defined success wrongly. Success is not accomplishments or material possessions or trophies or trophy boyfriends or girlfriends (is that a thing?). Success, according to Jesus, is a genuine and growing relationship with Him (see: Johnn 17:3). This relationship with Jesus is what those who are lost are missing. They are the ones who are perishing, and we should look to them and be brokenhearted, not jealous.
Jesus said it simply, "And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?" Mark 8:36 (NLT)
Our broken hearts should lead us to pray for their salvation, and to actions of love that show the face of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, forgive me when I have looked at others with natural eyes and failed to see people as you see them. Forgive me for defining success by things that are temporary and not eternal. Give me a heart to see people the way You do and desire mercy for them and not judgment. Amen