Are You Disturbed?
FROM many lands the reports are much the same. Dishonesty has become a plague. Many people are shoplifting. Employers find that they are experiencing heavy losses from employee theft. Bribery has become common in the business world. Fraud, extortion and embezzlement abound. By far the majority seem to be getting away with their dishonesty. Even among those who are caught, few are punished to the extent that their crimes merit.
How is this moral breakdown affecting you? Many are inclined to say, “What’s the use of being honest?” They begin to look with envy at the prosperity of lawless men. But is the success of dishonest persons to be envied?
Many centuries ago an inspired answer was given to this question. And rightly so, for moral corruption is not something new. It has been the source of disturbance to righteously inclined persons throughout many centuries of human existence. Over 3,000 years ago, God-fearing King David, for example, witnessed lawlessness among his own people, the Israelites. Under inspiration, he set forth excellent admonition as to how to maintain a proper course when seeing wrongdoers prosper.
David urged: “Do not show yourself heated up because of the evildoers. Do not be envious of those doing unrighteousness. For like grass they will speedily wither, and like green new grass they will fade away.” (Ps. 37:1, 2) Yes, what really is to be gained by becoming unduly upset about the way lawless men seem to escape punishment? If we envy the wealth they get, what will that change? Nothing really, but we may well be making ourselves unhappy and discontented. So the wiser course is to keep in mind that the material prosperity of evildoers is but temporary. Even if justice does not catch up with them, they cannot extend their lifespan indefinitely. Because of the shortness of human life, the wicked are like grass that, when cut, quickly withers. They are like lush green grass that fades away when it dries up. As evildoers come to their finish, so does their ill-gotten gain.
Another thing that will prevent us from envying wrongdoers is our recognizing that the Most High can and will correct matters in his due time. The psalmist continued: “Trust in Jehovah and do good; reside in the earth, and deal with faithfulness.” (Ps. 37:3) Confident that Jehovah God will right matters, we should continue to do what is good and not let the seeming success of lawless persons cause us to deviate from a right course. The psalmist also recommends that we “reside in the earth” (evidently referring here to the land that was David’s home and, hence, in our case, meaning the land of our residence). While continuing to live among lawless persons, we should trust in divine help and prove ourselves faithful or upright in all that we do.
In this way, we shall maintain a fine relationship with the Creator—something of far greater value than material things. The psalmist gives this advice: “Take exquisite delight in Jehovah, and he will give you the requests of your heart. Roll upon Jehovah your way, and rely upon him, and he himself will act. And he will certainly bring forth your righteousness as the light itself, and your justice as the midday.”—Ps. 37:4-6.
According to these words, our real delight, pleasure or happiness should be found in our God, in serving him faithfully. If we stand approved before him, he will grant us the ‘requests of our hearts,’ as we will be making our petitions in harmony with his will. (1 John 5:14, 15) We can roll upon him whatever burdens or cares we have, committing all our affairs into his hands and looking for his help, guidance and direction. If we rely on him he will not fail to act in our behalf. Though we may be misrepresented by others and our upright conduct may be obscured as if by a dark cloud, Jehovah God will, in his due time, make our righteousness and justice stand out as clearly and brightly as the sunshine at midday or noon.
THE NEED FOR PATIENCE
But before such vindication comes, what should we do? The psalmist answers: “Keep silent before Jehovah and wait longingly for him. Do not show yourself heated up at anyone making his way successful, at the man carrying out his ideas. Let anger alone and leave rage; do not show yourself heated up only to do evil. For evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth.”—Ps. 37:7-9.
What is the psalmist here telling us? He is pointing out that we need to wait patiently for Jehovah God to act in his due time, not voicing complaints. We need to restrain ourselves from getting so angry about the success of dishonest men that we act rashly and jeopardize our standing with God. What will help us in this respect is to keep in mind that evildoers will be cut off. Even in the natural outworking of matters, lawless action works against any lengthening of life. The person leading a debauched life, for example, may well die far earlier than if he had remained upright. So, in a general sense, persons who hope or trust in God enjoy a longer, more satisfying life.
In the case of the Israelites, to whom the words of the psalmist were originally directed, their continuance in the Promised Land and their enjoying long life depended on their obedience to God. Continued lawlessness, on the other hand, would result in the withdrawal of God’s blessing and protection. Often this meant death at the hands of enemy nations or from famine and disease.—Lev. 26:3-39; Amos 4:6–5:3.
From his own experience in life, the psalmist David came to appreciate that in the long run it is always best to conform to God’s righteous commands. He stated: “A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, and yet I have not seen anyone righteous left entirely, nor his offspring looking for bread. Watch the blameless one and keep the upright one in sight, for the future of that man will be peaceful. But the transgressors themselves will certainly be annihilated together; the future of wicked people will indeed be cut off.”—Ps. 37:25, 37, 38.
Persons who have grown old in Jehovah’s service in modern times have had the same experience. God sustained them in times of suffering, and many of them witnessed the death of oppressive rulers who were bent on destroying them. As these blameless servants of God look back on what has happened, they can see how their life has turned out well.
The fact that they are still alive proves that God provided what they needed. They have enjoyed peace, an inner calm and tranquillity. Why? Because they maintained a clean conscience and were spared the anxieties of a life that centers exclusively around material things and has only death in view. Furthermore, they confidently look to the future when Jehovah God will use his Son Jesus Christ and angelic forces to eradicate all corruption and lawless ones from the face of the earth and usher in an era of lasting peace.—2 Thess. 1:6-10.
Truly, the words of the psalmist help us to view life realistically. Yes, it is disturbing, in fact distressing, to see lawlessness flourish. But there is nothing to be gained by getting unduly upset about it. To yield to wrongdoing ourselves would ruin our relationship with the Creator. The wise course, then, is to endure patiently, confident that God will act and that our future is secure when we commit our affairs into his hands.