Why do bad people prosper while the good suffer?

Why do bad people prosper while the good suffer?

America, and the world, is in a growing economic crisis.  Yet, in the midst of so much suffering it seems like the rich get richer while the poor continue to suffer.  How is this fair?  Can politicians make it right?  Can we use the power of government to bring social Justice?

 

Spurgeon summarizes our lament this way:

 

From their youth up these men, who deserve perdition, revel in prosperity. They deserve to be hung in chains, and chains are hung about their necks; they are worthy to be chased from the world, and yet the world becomes all their own. — Charles Spurgeon

 

And even the prophet of Israel Jeremiah was forced to take this question to God… along with a rather morbid suggestion on what he thought God should do to those who unjustly prosper.

 

Lord, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy? You have planted them, and they have taken root and prospered. Your name is on their lips, but you are far from their hearts. But as for me, Lord, you know my heart. You see me and test my thoughts. Drag these people away like sheep to be butchered! Set them aside to be slaughtered!”  Jeremiah 12:1–3 (NLT)

 

In answer to the question, here are some compelling quotes worth consideration.

 

“The recompense on this side of the grave should, according to the design of God, remain as an object of faith. Here also God conceals Himself, in order that He may be found by those who seek Him. That this is so seldom done, even by the well-disposed, that even they are so much inclined to look upon the righteousness of God as inoperative in this life, is a melancholy proof of the degeneracy of the Church and of the lamentable prevalence of infidelity. — Hengstenberg

 

True piety is not a matter of enjoyment of temporal prosperity, but of the acquisition of the eternal good.— John Peter Lange

 

That we may win our way victoriously through the trials of our faith, through the sorrows of life and through the allurements of the world, we have need to resort assiduously and devoutly to God’s holy place. — John Peter Lange

 

Prosperity and adversity have opposite effects upon the pious and the ungodly. — John Peter Lange

 

Earthly prosperity is no more an infallible sign of God’s favor than temporal suffering is a proof of the Divine wrath. — John Peter Lange

 

Affliction often passes by the palaces of the rich, because they are not worthy of so great a blessing; instead of improving it, they would misuse it; whereas it visits the poor and becomes their salvation. — Augustine

 

The most sinful things are commonly the first to receive applause among men; what wonder is it then, if men seek to excuse them, yea, even to make them pass for virtues? — Augustine

 

Wealthy transgressors have applause and a great following in the world, and serve often to lead men astray. — Augustine

 

He who begins to talk like the world, will soon become accustomed to act like the world. — Augustine

 

Worldly prosperity is slippery ice, on which one easily falls. — Augustine

 

God allows the ungodly to go free like the wild beast; but the hunter will pursue them some time. — Arndt

 

We all confess it to be the most indubitable article of our faith that God governs the world, but how different would our assurance of this be in time, of trouble if we believed it implicitly. — Tholuck

 

When our faith becomes sight then all the dreams of the ungodly are found to be empty bubbles. — Tholuck

 

He who envies the prosperity of the ungodly, has not yet gained a clear view of God. — Vaihinger

 

We know from God’s word, that the world passes away and the first thereof: therefore let not the lust of the world allure us. — Schaubach (1 Sunday after Trinity) 

 

“Take eternity into your estimate, and the delusion will vanish; and you will see, that no state in which an ungodly man can possibly be, is any more to be compared with yours, than the twinkling of a taper is with the light and splendour of the meridian sun.” — Charles Simeon  

 

“Doubtless, in countries where the rights of individuals are secured by just laws and a righteous administration, this inequality will be less apparent, than in places, where there is more scope afforded for the unrestrained exercise of fraud and violence: but in every place there is ample evidence, that worldly prosperity is the attainment, not of spiritual, but of carnal minds” — Charles Simeon  

 

“If riches increase, we are immediately ready “to set our heart upon them,” and to trust in them rather than in God. They foster pride in the heart of the possessor; and lead not unfrequently to an oppressive conduct towards the poor, and to the most daring impiety towards God.  — Charles Simeon  

 

“Let us then remember, that if God sends us trials which we would gladly escape, or withholds comforts which we would desire to possess, he does it in wisdom, and in love: and in all probability we shall one day see reason to adore him for the things which we now deplore, as much as for any of those benefits in which we are most disposed to rejoice. — Charles Simeon  

 

Algebra in the Church

Algebra in the Church

In every math class across the globe right now there is a kid asking himself, “where will I ever use this stuff in real life?

The answer is–church!

When it comes to science and faith, Algebra can teach us about relationships.

So let’s start with a simple Algebra equation:

a + b = c + d

In this simple equation we can see the life of the church and family.  On each side of the equation we have the unique functions (a, b, c, d).  Each part brings something unique, but added together they remain equal in value.

In The Church

Elder + Elder = Sheep + Sheep

Leader = Follower

 In Life

Man  = Woman

Rich = Poor

 In The Family

Father = Daughter

Wife = Husband

Brother = Sister

Mother + Father = Son + Daughter

God has created and equipped us for a diversity of roles within the church and within our families.  We must learn to embrace our differences rather than normalize them.  Mothers have authority over their sons but each person is equal in value and purpose in the Kingdom of Jesus.  The husband is the head of the wife yet they remain equal in worth to their families and to God.  Elders have authority over the flock but each person is equal in value and purpose to the life of the Church.

The giftings of the Spirit and our natural talents set us apart for unique service to the Lord but drawing us together is the shed blood of Jesus Christ which makes us equal at the foot of the cross.

I think there is a lot we can learn from using Algebra in the Church.

Chiastic Poetry in Psalm 73

Chiastic Poetry in Psalm 73

Structure

In preparing to preach through Psalms 73, I discovered a beautiful chiastic structure embedded with many rich parallellisms.

In this post, I wont even attempt to unpack it all (you’ll have to wait for my sermon).

Instead, let me simply share the chiastic outline of the passage. Take special note of the key word pairings used by the Psalmest that I have highlighted using different colors.

I noticed that almost every commentator sees v. 17 as the central turning point of the Psalm.  However, I see v.16 and the Psalmists choice to meditate upon the Lord as the focus which is then reinforced by his action in v.17.

I am ultimately intrigued by the closing thought in v.27 which emphasizes the Missio Dei (mission of God) in the life of the Psalmist.  I have yet to ready anybody who talked about this aspect of the Psalm, but I see it as the second focal point of the Chiasmus.

Read through Psalm 73 and let me know what you think.

Chiastic Psa 73

Theme

The theme of struggle against the world and turning to the one reliable foundation for faith is a strong theme in Psalm 73.  It reminds me a lot of the lyrics to “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You” by Sting (1993 album “Ten Summoner’s Tales“).

You could say I lost my faith in science and progress
You could say I lost my belief in the holy church
You could say I lost my sense of direction
You could say all of this and worse but

If I ever lose my faith in you
There’d be nothing left for me to do

Some would say I was a lost man in a lost world
You could say I lost my faith in the people on TV
You could say I’d lost my belief in our politicians
They all seemed like game show hosts to me

If I ever lose my faith in you
There’d be nothing left for me to do

I could be lost inside their lies without a trace
But every time I close my eyes I see your face

I never saw no miracle of science
That didn’t go from a blessing to a curse
I never saw no military solution
That didn’t always end up as something worse but
Let me say this first

If I ever lose my faith in you
There’d be nothing left for me to do

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