When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
but when the wicked rule, the people groan.
A couple of days ago we looked at Proverbs 28:28, "When the wicked rise, people hide themselves, but when they perish, the righteous increase." Proverbs 29:2 provides a kind of flip-side observation: "When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan."
A lot of Christians have been doing a lot of groaning of late. Many Christians in America, particularly those of a more conservative political stripe, have been mourning what they understand to be a continual eroding of righteous values, righteous morals, and righteous standards of justice in this land that they believe to have been solidly founded on Christian principles. Further many believe that the cause of this erosion is wicked rule.
No doubt, there is much for the Christian to mourn in terms of the present state of affairs. Francis Schaeffer some fifty years ago was already speaking of America and Europe as being post-Christian societies. Even then he asked the profound question: "How should we then live?" In other words, how should the Christian live in a society where the righteous appear to be decreasing and where the wicked appear to rule. I would like to suggest three things.
- Groaning is appropriate. Christians need to take care not to lose their moral edge. Sin remains sin even when it becomes acceptable to the masses and legal in the courts. Christians need to guard against the cultural forces that would suck them into a laissez faire attitude toward moral decline in the land. God’s standards do not change. A failure to groan may be symptomatic of a hardening heart. The process of sanctification in our lives, the work by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Jesus, at once increases our gladness over righteousness and our sorrow over sin.
- Pray and obey. The New Testament very explicitly commands the Christian to pray for and obey those who rule over them. If you trust and approve of what governmental leaders are doing now in this country, pray for them. If you believe that governmental leaders are leading the country in wicked ways, then pray for them even harder. And obey them. Paul’s command in Romans 13 was written at a time when one of the most notorious of wicked emperor’s ruled Rome.
- Never ever let groaning become despairing. Wickedness may rule from the seats of human power, but Jesus sits upon his throne! His kingdom presently is not of this world, but a day approaches when the kingdoms of this world will be the Kingdom of Christ. Work in the world to be salt and light. In so far as you are able, seek to retard the advance of wickedness. Be righteous in your own life. Through it all, however, remember Jesus is alive today. The wicked may rule now, but only for a season. The righteous will one day increase in the land, a great multitude that no one can count, before the throne of King Jesus the Righteous.