Have you ever caught yourself wondering the same thing Jeremiah questioned God about? Sometimes it’s hard not to compare ourselves to others who have more “stuff” than we do. That’s why God gave us the commandment to be careful with coveting. Yet, I was surprised by Jeremiah’s honest questions before God. “Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy?”
It must have been hard for Jeremiah to look around at all the lavish living going on around him, knowing that those same people were all but snubbing God. He said, “You have planted them, and they have taken root and prospered. Your name is on their lips, but you are far from their hearts.” Jeremiah wanted to know where the justice was. Why do some people seem to have it so easy?
God’s response doesn’t even really address Jeremiah’s complaint directly, but it does speak to justice. In the rest of the reading, we see what God promises will happen to these prosperous people who have drifted away from him. “I have abandoned my people, my special possession. I have surrendered my dearest ones to their enemies.”
Justice in the end. We know our God is also merciful, but it’s important to remember he will also judge us for our right and wrong choices. Psalm 37:8-9 speaks to God’s justice. “Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.”
As Christians, we can stand up to the injustices we see around us, like poverty, oppression, the needless suffering in war torn nations, etc. We can lead with actions and words of love. That’s what sets us apart.
The song lyrics say, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Unfortunately, we don’t always see self-professed Christians acting in loving ways. It’s tragic when Christians are mislabeled or misunderstood because of the poor choices of other brothers or sisters in Christ. We can be seen as loving when we hold ourselves to the standard of pleasing God. If we could just all act more like Jesus himself this world would be a loving and just place!
The expectation for God to be just and fair perplexed King Solomon a bit, too. Ecclesiastes 3:17 says, “In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.” God’s judgment will be for all, but thankfully we have an advocate. We can come before God directly, clothed in the righteousness of Jesus.
Proverbs 21:17 says, “Justice is a joy to the godly, but it terrifies evildoers.” We can experience joy when we stop worrying about the fairness or lack thereof we see. When we can trust that God will do the right thing at the right moment, our feelings of complaint vanish. As a “godly” follower, joy is ours because we know we have done our best to please God and put him first. Jesus will be beside us on that judgment day.
A verse that has really helped me with the whole “justice” discussion is Romans 12:19 where Paul is quoting Deuteronomy when he says, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back, says the Lord.” That’s the exact example we see in our text of how God responds to Jeremiah’s lament.
When we are facing a situation where we have been treated unfairly by another, this verse from Romans can give us courage not to lash out. Have you ever thought about how many battles God may be fighting for you at this very moment? How do you respond to a God that loves you THAT much?
Let’s pray … Lord, you are merciful and mighty. Thank you for how your justice rules over this universe. Forgive me when I judge others wondering how they can afford the extravagant lifestyle they do while I’m cutting corners in Mexico! Help me to trust you for and receive all the blessings you intend for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.