Our God is a patient God, He is slow to anger (“The LORD is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty.” –from Numbers 14:18 NLT).
I think there are at least two reasons why some people who are unbelievers and behave in hurtful ways appear to be succeeding in life. One is that God wants no one to perish:
“It is not my Heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”
from Matthew 18:14 NLT
You and I are blessed enough to know Jesus, so our eyes are now open, and we understand much more about how the world works. However, at some point we were not saved, we did not know Jesus. God waited for us, He was patient with us.
God loves all people, no matter how mean, evil or bad they may be. He created them, and we know from the verse above that He wants all to come to know His Son and to be saved from an eternity without Him. No matter how people behave, they are made in His image and with that comes commands of how you and I are to treat them. We are not to abuse or defile them or ourselves, regardless of the circumstances or how they may treat us.
Sometimes, it appears that the “bad” people are doing well. They have great jobs, marriages, wonderful kids, material possessions, and so on and so on. God already knows whether they cry out to Him before their death. What if they do not come to know Him before they die? Earth is all they have, this is the most joy they will ever achieve, and then they will spend all eternity in flames with maggots (“Where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out.” —Mark 9:48 NLT).
This perspective makes me pity them, as this broken, sin-filled world is all there is for them. As believers, we know Earth is the closest to hell we will ever get because of Jesus’ sacrifice. We know we are just passing through here. The most amazing inheritance awaits us in heaven in the very presence of Jesus.
“We have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.”
1 Peter 1:4 NLT
It is also possible that “bad” people appear to be thriving on Earth because when they do come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, they will then have a platform. Whether that platform is a wide circle of friends, influence or assets to propel God’s Kingdom forward, what was once used to advance other agendas is now invested in the Kingdom.
We will all stand before God and have to give an account.
“Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God.”
Romans 14:12 NLT
It is best to refocus any energy you may be investing toward figuring out why “bad” people appear to thrive toward stewarding your own gifts and talents. What are you doing with Jesus, how are you advancing His Kingdom with the blessings He has given you?
This is sometimes hard to do when such people are impacting your life with their hurtful and bad choices, but leave vengeance to God (Romans 12:19), pray for them (Matthew 5:44), and walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).
On this side of heaven, we will never truly know what is going on in these people’s lives, their motives, how God is working, and what the eternal outcomes will be. We should obey what we have been told to do:
- “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” —Romans 12:18 NLT
- “Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” —Matthew 5:44 NLT
- And my personal favorite, “Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.'” —Romans 12:20 NLT
One final thought, if someone is making bad choices or being hurtful, it may be a cry deep in their soul that they don’t understand. If it is safe to do so, pray first, and then engage the person to learn more. People who have experienced trauma sometimes do not know how to process the pain and it manifests in hurtful ways to others.
Approaching someone and asking without judgment, “Would you tell me your story?” or “Can I share my story with you?” can lead to the hole in their soul being filled by the Almighty Creator as you share your story and the Truth. Our stories are woven into our souls, hearts and minds to be bridges to reach others with the Gospel.
Never be ashamed of who you are and where you have been. Your story may be the exact one that person needs to hear to have their eyes opened to Jesus and they will never thirst again.
“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
John 4:14 NLT