Do Not Envy Temporary Success
Prosperity Proves Nothing
‘Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked: Proverbs 24:19’
Do not let glamorous lives of the wicked bother you. Sinners appear to prosper. They look happy. They think they will get away with sin. But their end is coming. God will laugh at them and destroy them. Do not envy their temporary success.
There is a God in heaven, and He punishes such sinners severely (Ps 58:6-11). He will have the last laugh at their rebellion against Him and His word. Their happiness is feigned; their success an illusion, their long-term prosperity a delusion. They experience trouble here; they often die young; then they face an angry God! Do not fret about them.
The verse before you is only half of the proverb. After warning you not to fret about the wicked or to envy them, Solomon wrote, “For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out” (Pr 24:20). This is wisdom! Instead of being confused or frustrated by evil and wicked men, you know their terrible ruin is coming.
Due to television, magazines, and the Internet, you have to see the faces, homes, cars, and sins of the wicked much more than Solomon did. Their escapades are published around the world every day. But his inspired words are still true. Do not envy them, because you know their future; they do not know yours, and your future is much better than theirs!
It is a common and foolish expression to describe sinners as getting away with murder. But no one gets away with murder. Ask Cain. Ask David. Ask Jezebel. Ask the Jewish leadership that crucified Jesus Christ. Ask Hitler. Men will not get away with even the idle words of foolish talking and jesting (Matt 12:36; Eph 5:3-6).
Prosperity proves nothing. Do not envy sinners who seem to prosper. God may allow or send prosperity to encourage fools in their foolishness (Pr 1:32; Ex 9:16). David taught that if you wait long enough, they will be completely gone, and you will not be able to even find them (Ps 37:35-36). Do not envy a soap bubble. It will soon pop and disappear!
Wise men walk by faith and knowledge. They believe all God has said against sin in the Bible, and they reject worldly advice or examples that pretend sin might be profitable. They know better. They know all men are liars, especially in Hollywood, and God is true. They know a day of reckoning is coming, in which all the wicked shall give an account of their lives and be rewarded with eternal torment for their folly and evil (II Cor 5:9-11).
Faith looks constantly to the future. It knows there is much more than meets the physical eye here on earth. Therefore, the righteous walk by faith, not by sight (II Cor 5:7). They know a great reversal of fortune is coming, for both the righteous and the wicked. They know the pleasures of heaven far outweigh any trouble here (Rom 8:18). Like Moses, they look ahead and laugh at Egypt’s riches (Heb 11:24-26).
Fearing God and keeping His commandments are the greatest things you can do for yourself (Pr 1:7). This is true wisdom. You fully trust God’s written revelation for your life. You know He exists and His words are absolute truth, and you know there is great reward for obeying Him (Ps 19:11).
The apparent pleasure and prosperity of fools cause you to question if there is profit in obeying God and His word. David and his song leader Asaph wrote about such foolish and short-term thoughts (Ps 49:1-20; 73:1-20). These ideas are fiery darts of doubt from the devil to overthrow your faith and commitment to wisdom (Gen 3:1).
Let the wicked have their fun in this world, and you can laugh at them in the next one (Ps 17:13-15)! You have a reward coming that will put their deceitful pleasures to shame, and remembering this reward fills the Christian with hope, no matter how difficult his existence here might be (Ps 73:1-20). God will laugh at their calamities now and declare condemnation later (Pr 1:23-31).