Monday, February 29, 2016

Lessons from Sadie (#2): Don’t Envy the Wicked

NIV  Proverbs 24:1 Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company;

Sadie and I were almost home this morning from a pleasant, two mile walk in the fields east of our house.  As we got ready to cross the one big road along our path, we saw two small dogs walking along the road.  Sadie desperately wanted to go and play with them.  She was pulling hard on the leash.  She was panting and almost whimpering. She wanted to be free like they were.  If we had been in the middle of the fields, I might have allowed it, but where we were it would have been very dangerous.

Without thinking, I said out loud, “Sadie, you probably think their life is better than yours, but it’s not.” (Do you ever talk to your dog as if it can understand?).

Immediately the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and showed me that I was often tempted to act, feel, and think like Sadie.

Sometimes we see people who in terms of worldly wealth, financial security, comfort, and luxuries are a lot better off than we are.  We feel tempted to be envious and covet.  We feel the pull to want to enjoy a type of “worldly freedom to play” that others have.

But Sadie’s life really is very good.  She has a family who loves her.  She is well fed and we never let her go hungry.  We take her for walks, let her run off the leash when it’s safe, and play with her.  And we protect her from dangers that she can’t understand.  If Sadie knew what the lives of those “free to run anywhere” dogs were really like, she would never want to trade places.

Joy and Sadie

Of course, the analogy is not perfect.  It’s true that even in this life, the peace, joy, comfort, and meaning we gain by taking up our cross and following Christ far outweighs the deceptive pleasures the world offers.  Yet, the main reason we should not want to trade places with the worldly is not what’s going on now, but what will happen in the future.

I would like to close with an ancient and powerful poem which addresses this same topic with great clarity:

NIV  Psalm 73:1 A psalm of Asaph. Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.
 5 They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills.
 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.
 7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits.
 8 They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression.
 9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.
 10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.
 11 They say, "How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?"
 12 This is what the wicked are like-- always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
 13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence.
 14 All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.
 15 If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children.
 16 When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply
 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.
 19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!
 20 They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.
 21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
 27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
 28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful illustration of how we humans tend to think sometimes. Thanks for the analogy Mark, it is always helpful to be reminded of things we already know but sometimes forget and/or ignore