One of the most persistent questions from Christians is why do the wicked prosper. Why is it that we who trust in God, are honest, put others first, and do what is right often suffer yet the wicked prosper? We see so many of the ungodly around us who do what is wrong in order to gain advantage, position, and money. Why does God do nothing about that? Why does He let them gain so much and His followers so little? This is not an easy question to answer. But let me offer something.
The wicked prosper by using the sins of the fallen realm to their advantage. They deceive, threaten, compromise, lie, seek their own, gain power, control others, steal, entice, and more. They do things consistent with sin. They promote addiction and take advantage of it. They use the goodness of others and trample them underfoot. They move easily through this fallen world, the way a river flows downhill. They use the weight of sin to move them along, eroding goodness, avoiding the truth, and carrying within themselves the debris of chaos, rebellion, and evil as they hurry downward toward the abyss, carried along by the very sins they used to prosper.
They have their reward in full.
- Matt. 6:2, “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.”
- Luke 6:24, “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.”
- Luke 16:19-25, “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.”
We Christians do what is right because we have been bought with a price (Acts 20:28). We are redeemed and indwelt by God (John 14:23). We are born again (John 3:3-8) and made new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17). We follow Jesus (Luke 9:23-24) and not the sinful world. This cost Jesus His life – because He was loving, just as God is love (1 John 4:8). Jesus is the standard of goodness, not us – and we must follow Him, even if it injures us.
Jesus (God in the flesh, John 1:1, 14) did what was right, and His reward was to sit at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 2:33). Our reward will be similar. We will be in heaven with Him, enjoying the blessings of eternity. But the wicked have their reward now and have only the agony of eternal hell waiting for them.
He is being gracious to them, giving them chances to repent, to turn to Him, and be redeemed. But they choose not to due to their hardened hearts. They have been held captive by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13) and the lusts of deceit (Eph. 4:22)
Yet God shows patient love towards them.
Matthew 5:43–48, “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
We live in a fallen world, and those who cooperate with deeds of darkness will prosper – for a time. God shows patient love towards them, but their end is eternal destruction. So, they prosper, and Christians suffer. Just as Jesus suffered in his righteousness, so we too will suffer. The wicked have their reward in full in this world and will have only judgment and condemnation in the next.