Evil is not worth the gain

Just look around and you will find those who choose not to live according to God’s desire. People are greedy, hungry for power, oppressive to others, even violent. It seems like ‘they’ are the ones who are rewarded with comfort and advancement in the world but their gains are short-lived.

He who is steadfast in righteousness will live, but he who pursues evil will die.  Men of perverse mind are an abomination to the LORD, but those of blameless ways are his delight.  Be assured, an evil man will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will be delivered.  Like a gold ring in a swine’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.  The desire of the righteous ends only in good; the expectation of the wicked in wrath.  One man gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.  A liberal man will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.  The people curse him who holds back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.  He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, but evil comes to him who searches for it.  He who trusts in his riches will wither, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.  He who troubles his household will inherit wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.  The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, but lawlessness takes away lives.  If the righteous is requited on earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner!  Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.  A good man obtains favor from the LORD, but a man of evil devices he condemns.  A man is not established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will never be moved.  A good wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.  The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsels of the wicked are treacherous.  The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright delivers men.

Proverbs 11:19-12:6

The gains for those who choose evil only last while they are alive, and sometimes not even that long. For those who choose God’s way of righteousness, it may not be smooth sailing ahead, but they “will be delivered.”

As the second half of Great Lent begins, we are ‘turning it up a notch’ in our spiritual expectations. The Church has reminded us of the Cross that is coming. Now today, we are reminded that choosing evil will not pay off in the long term.

We all know those who fit the description of today’s advice in Proverbs, but do we know ourselves? We keep chasing pleasure, even when God has warned to seek Him and not our comfort. We keep chasing the world, even when God has shown us the Cross. Are we evil?

We normally think of evil as ‘those people’ who kill, steel, and cause destruction. Evil is anything against the will of God. If God is good, then evil is not from God. If God says we should deny ourselves (and the world) then evil pursues the world and self-gratification.

You might be thinking that there is no way out. No matter how much you try to ‘die to the world’ you find yourself chasing pleasure. That’s where today’s reminder of God’s promise comes in. God understands that we constantly return to evil. He STILL promises to save us.

And when the LORD smelled the pleasing odor, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.  While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”  And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.  The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every bird of the air, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered.  Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.  Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.  For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning; of every beast I will require it and of man; of every man’s brother I will require the life of man.  Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.  And you, be fruitful and multiply, bring forth abundantly on the earth and multiply in it.”

Genesis 8:21-9:7

God knows we will fall to temptation. He knows we chase evil. That doesn’t stop Him from keeping His promise. EVEN THOUGH we chase evil, God promises to save us. In return He asks that we refrain from evil. As we have been saying, Great Lent is our chance to refocus on God.

How many times will it take for us to see the love of God and stop chasing evil? We definitely have a short memory when it comes to God’s blessings for us. At least reading about God’s constant acts of rescue in the Scriptures could ‘jump start’ our passion to leave evil behind.

If you think God is waiting for us to ‘get it right’ before He saves us, think again. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5.8) If He waited, we would all be lost forever.

So, here’s the deal. We won’t always get it right. That can’t stop us from trying. Repentance is getting up every time we fall, no matter how often. We know evil leads to destruction. Just keep chasing after God and you will find righteousness, and His righteousness will never end.

If we keep chasing evil, we will surely die. If we chase God, we will be delivered, even if we fall.

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