• Steve

The World's Last Night

Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death. The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. (Proverbs 10:2-3)

In Proverbs there is a connection between good behavior and God’s blessing. In this case, the Lord protects the righteous person from hunger and death, but the wicked person will be “thwarted.” Acting well usually leads to reward; acting sinfully usually leads to punishment. However, sometimes in this life wicked people prosper and faithful people suffer. Why does this happen?

The answer to that question is long and complex, but the main reason is this: God delays judgment in order to give us all the opportunity to choose Him freely. Tragically, many will use this freedom for evil rather than good. But when we see unjust people prospering, it’s important to remember that in the long run God will right every wrong. For whatever people do or do not get away with on earth, all of us will face God’s final judgment. And on that day, what will count is whether we have asked for God’s forgiveness and walked humbly with Him – or not. C. S. Lewis considers how God will bring perfect justice in his essay, “The World’s Last Night”:

[We must] remember that what may be upon us at any moment is not an End but a Judgment … I can imagine no man who will look with more horror on the End than a conscientious revolutionary who has, in a sense sincerely, been justifying cruelties and injustices inflicted on millions of his contemporaries by the benefits which he hopes to confer on future generations: generations who, as one terrible moment now reveals to him, were never going to exist. …
For what comes is Judgment: happy are those whom it finds laboring in their vocations, whether they were merely going out to feed the pigs or laying good plans to deliver humanity a hundred years hence from some great evil. The curtain has indeed now fallen. Those pigs will never in fact be fed, the great campaign against … Governmental Tyranny will never in fact proceed to victory. No matter; you were at your post when the Inspection came.

In other words, what is important in human life is not how prosperous you are or even how much success you have in fighting evil, but whether you live with integrity before God. Usually, acting with kindness and justice will be rewarded now, but even when it is not, it is still the wisest way to live because God’s Judgment is coming. As Jesus puts it, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).

So whether you are facing justice or injustice today, take heart that God will sort it all out in the end. Repent of any greed, selfishness, or jealousy in your own life, and be faithful to the post that God has called you to today.

Father, guide my life in your love and righteousness. Forgive me for the ways I have been dishonest, and help me live my life under the knowledge that Judgment Day is coming. I need your forgiveness through Jesus and your strength through your Spirit. Help me be faithful to the call on my life today. In Christ’s Name, Amen.