Verse: Proverbs 23:17-18
Do not let your heart envy sinners,
but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.
I feel like this proverb is a good heart check. I don't think this is something many of us would say out loud, but I do think many of us have felt and thought this. We aren't often saying, "man I wish I could get drunk today" or "I wish I could lust today" or "I wish I could just cheat on this a little." But it is tempting to look at people who don't follow Jesus and feel a little jealous! Wouldn't life be easier if we could do whatever we wanted?
Jesus acknowledges that life without his teachings might seem easier! He says in Matthew 7:13-14 that it is like a WIDE GATE - easy to go through:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
We can even start to feel sorry for ourselves sometimes - "it isn't fair that this road is so narrow!" But the pay off isn't in the immediate. Life might seem easier without God in the short run, but it will not be easier (or better!) in the long run. This is why the author says that when we fear God, we have a future hope. Notice that - a FUTURE hope. We may miss out on some immediate pleasures, short cuts, or things that seem "easier." But when we live our life fearing the Lord, we have hope for the future.
When we live our lives serving God and following his ways, we are promised the blessing of his presence. His presence walking with us is so much more life giving than any temporary pleasure. When we fear the Lord, we are also connected to his purpose. And when we are walking in his purpose, doing what he's called us to do, we find meaning that we'd never find just chasing whatever is easiest in life.
So when we feel tempted to wonder "is this all worth it?" Or when we feel tempted to be jealous of those who can "do whatever they want" - remember this Proverb. God's paths lead us to the fullest life. In times of temptation, we can dial it down, take a breath, and remember that we aren't in this for temporary pleasure, we are in this for the long run, making a difference in this world, and walking with our loving God.
Thank you that your ways are the ways of life. Thank you that your paths lead me into righteousness. I pray you'd direct my steps, and keep my heart from being jealous after the things of the world.