Matthew 5:1-2, 6 - Seeing the crowds, He [Jesus] went up on the mountain, and when He sat down, His disciples came to Him. And He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."
"Is it wrong to be happy when someone gets what they deserve?"
That's a loaded question, isn't it? If someone does evil and then gets caught and suffers for it, it's common for other people to be happy. But we're Christian—we've been taught to forgive our enemies, to avoid judging people, and always to remember that we ourselves are sinners. So does that mean it's a sin to be happy when a wicked person gets His comeuppance, when "what goes around, comes around"?
It can be. If we take personal delight as we watch someone else suffer, that's pretty awful, and I can't see Jesus being happy with that. If we hold on to old grudges year after year—even justified ones!—and refuse to even think about letting them go under any circumstances, it's a pretty safe bet we're doing wrong.
But then we have Jesus' words: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." What should we do with that?
Clearly, it's good to love righteousness, to look forward to justice, and to pray that God will bring it. "When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but a terror to evildoers" (Proverbs 21:15). "For the Lord loves justice; He will not forsake His saints" (Psalm 37:28a). And when God takes a hand in human history and rescues the innocent, it is absolutely good to be happy and give thanks: as the psalmist says, "I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to You, O Lord, I will make music" (Psalm 101:1). And that goes for situations in our personal lives as well.
So when God rescues the innocent and brings down evildoers, we can be happy. But we'll do it remembering that we, too, are sinners, and that the only righteousness we have is what Jesus has given us at the cost of His own life. "There but for the grace of God go I" should be in our minds even when we're being happy—a sense of awe and humility, what the Bible calls the "fear of God" in the best possible sense. That keeps our egos under control.
And we can pray for the evildoers, even those who have harmed us personally—because Jesus died and rose again for them, too. If they repent and believe, they also will receive His righteousness.
Sometimes that can be hard to swallow. But we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us—to remake us more and more in the image of Jesus, who is our righteousness—the only righteousness we have, the only kind we'll ever need.
WE PRAY: Lord, let Your righteousness have the victory—in our world and in my heart. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Name a favorite book or movie where righteousness wins out in the end.
2. When you are harmed or oppressed, how does God help you? Name as many ways as you can.
3. Tell about a time when God overturned evil in your experience.
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