Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. – Psalm 37:1-6 ESV
When we read an inspirational scriptures, we can often imagine the passage in glowing and pretty images. We feel warm and fuzzy over what it says, but we don’t’ stop to think about how the passage would look in real life if we lived it out. Psalm 37 is one of these that has beautiful, true, and inspiring promises. However, if we pick out only those phrases, we don’t see the true image that’s being painted of what we are stepping into.
Truth 1: There are evildoers, and we must let them be. This passage is about letting the Lord fight our battles and believing in His long-term plan. It’s about how we’re supposed to live in the midst of bad people. We sometimes act like, as Christians, it’s our job to get rid of the bad people or at least convince them their bad and try to make them stop doing bad things. Psalm 37 is saying that there are evil people in the world, and we’re not to get worked up about it, but to let the Lord deal with them in his way and His time.
Truth 2: Our righteousness is to be highlighted by God, not us or our friends. Our righteousness isn’t defined by what group of people we associate with or how good we’ve followed a list of rules. We are to wait on the Lord to acknowledge our righteousness, not ourselves. He will bring it about, after we are patient. Note, it says, after we wait on Him; He doesn’t say it will happen right when we want it, or when it will make us look good to other people, or anything else that is based on our desires and expectations. It’s His work to do and it will be done in His time and His ways. Our job is to wait.
Truth 3: Belief first. We often want God to answer our prayers or give us blessing and then we’ll believe Him. We don’t say that outright, of course. Our minds are a lot more nuanced and complicated than that. This passage highlights how important it is to put our belief in God first, before we demand proof or blessing or protection. Our hearts must be in Him and held there as circumstances change. We will face temptation after temptation to remove our faith and hold onto something more tangible and immediate.
God promises us wonderful things, but the path to those blessings is one of patience in the face of evil, wait for acknowledgement from Him alone, and choosing to believe no matter whether circumstances make you look crazy or not. This is a slightly less rosy picture than just believing for happy blessings. However, if we can keep this image in our mind, we will stay closer to God during the less rosy times. Otherwise our happy image of how things should be collides with the truth of our reality and we feel disillusioned or let down.
Life isn’t pretty or easy, but God will come through in the end. Don’t let the selfishness and harm that comes from the evil in the world stop our eyes from seeking the Lord. We must remember to not worry or be jealous of their success or fear that God has forgotten to deal with them. God is the boss and He will bring about His justice in the perfect time.