I’ve asked it. You’ve asked it. We’ve all asked it.

Why do evil people succeed? Why does the Lord allow his people to suffer while the wicked prosper in life?

I’ve asked these questions countless times, even as recent as this morning. Actually, these questions are so common that we even find numerous Biblical accounts in which the Lord is questioned for what appears to be the wicked prospering despite their evil ways.

Jeremiah asked, “Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy?” (Jer. 12:1). Job asked, Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful? … [T]he light of the wicked never seems to be extinguished. Do they ever have trouble? Does God distribute sorrows to them in anger?” (Job 21:7, 17). And David asked, “Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I am in trouble?” (Ps. 10:1).

The same things we question today have clearly been questioned for many lifetimes. Nevertheless, it’s undoubtedly trying to witness the success of the wicked all awhile we suffer, sometimes even at the expense of the very actions that lead to their success.

While I’d like to say the next few lines will provide clear answers to these questions, they won’t. Rather, you’ll find that what appears is not always as it is.

Culture Defined Success

We humans like to define success based on the things of this world. Twenty-first century culture tells us that to be successful we must get richer, look better, have more, and be known by many regardless of who we must crush along the way. And this false presumption is far from God’s truth. It’s a sad and disheartening reality that can blind us from God’s promises as we observe in disbelief and envy the already rich win the lottery, the corrupt employee receive the promotion we’ve been longing for, or the wealthy parents take their kiddos on yet another luxurious vacation while the closest thing to vacation our kids will experience is to the local park.

Earthly vs. Heavenly Success

I’m sure you already, much like myself as I pen these words, have a very specific person or even a particular group of people that has surfaced in your mind.

So… they appear to have succeeded despite their evil ways. They appear free regardless of the lies they’ve told. They appear to be perfectly healthy despite their selfish behaviors. They appear happy and free of suffering though their greed has led to the pain and suffering of others.

But, that’s just it … they appear. From our viewpoint they appear successful — they appear to be blessed in spite of their wickedness — yet hidden from the public eye, concealed beneath the pride and strained grins, are broken souls starving for something more.

The souls of the wicked may appear to “have it all” in accordance to the twenty-first century definition of success, and though we may suffer as followers of Christ, we have found success of which is far greater than any one might find here on earth.

Jesus said, “Be happy! Yes, leap with joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven” (Lk. 6:23). And Oh, what sorrow awaits those who are evil (vv. 24-26).

Shifting Our Prosperity Perspective

Our perspective on prosperity begins to shift when we focus not on success as it is defined by the world but instead as it is defined by our gracious Redeemer. For though we believe in the Lord we remain sinners merely saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:1-10). And there will soon be a day when “the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge ALL people according to their deeds” (Mt. 16:27, emphasis mine).

So,

“Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong.
For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither.” (Ps. 37:1-2)

Instead,

Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” (vv. 3-5, emphasis mine)

Consider It All Success

The wicked may continue to appear to prosper but I choose to trust in the unfailing words of our Lord for He is good and His promises never fail (Lk. 1:37; 18:19). I will consider all that I am in Christ and all that I have through Christ a success for there will come a day when my enemies, too, will have to stand before the King and answer for all they have done.

As in the words of Solomon, “even though a person sins a hundred times and still lives a long time, I know that those who fear God will be better off. The wicked will not prosper, for they do not fear God. Their days will never grow long like the evening shadows.” (Ecc. 8:12-13).

3 Comments on “Prosperity Perspective: Why Do Evil People Succeed?

  1. Very well said… as I progress in my spiritual walk and in my self awareness I have found that things aren’t always as they seem. This very question has come up many times between my husband and I and often times I have to list our blessings and how fortunate we really are. We have hard times and one in particular was overcoming my addiction and as bad as that was God was always there watching over me and waiting for me to make a move in the right direction, boy when I did… He blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. At times I still have to remind myself of what blessings really are and I have come to this conclusion… they’re your inner most desires that are aligned with His Will and what I mean by that is if one desires money for example but has a gambling problem maybe they shouldn’t win the lottery but God will bless them with another day to figure out how to pay their bills or maybe an unexpected extension or perhaps they paid to much one month and this month it was taken care of. Either way you look at it it’s blessings and when I finally let go of trying to control things my blessings have been endless. If I was in a fender bender and later found out that there was a pile up collision on route to my destination, blessing.
    Faith becomes easy after awhile and suppose I never found out that there was a pile up after the fender bender this is where I have faith that I am always exactly where I need to be when I need to be there bc His plan is what is and I choose to have faith in that. Sometimes it seems like bad things happen to good people that are unfailing in their duties as a Christian but perhaps He has a plan for that too. I myself am trying to find strength and to put away my fears so I can fulfill something that I believe He’s calling me to.
    As for those that are bad and they seem to have it all, in my experience I’ve noticed that they’re an empty shell and they are missing out on the big picture and what God has waiting for us. Our time here on earth is very short in comparison to eternity and what a beautiful day that’ll be… so as a Christian my job is just to love and sometimes that’s not without it’s challenges but I do my best and I try to listen to the spirit and the more I listen in this loud world, I have found the more I can hear…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that. And you’re so right in saying we’re called to love even the hard to love and that’s certainly not always easy! The reality is that none of us are “good;” we may do good things, but we are all broken sinners in need of a Savior. And it may just be through the love we show others that they find Life.

      Like

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