Envy Not the Oppressor
Brian D. Dykstra, Teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI
Proverbs 3:31-32: “Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. For the froward is abomination of the Lord: but his secret is with the righteous.”
As we Christians go through our day to day lives, we are to have our eyes open. We are to be aware of what is happening in the world around us. News events have a deeper meaning for us than simply being interesting topics of conversation. We see evidence of Christ’s return as we see events unfold. He warned us about what the last days would be like.
There is a danger for us, however, as we go through life this way. If we do not view the world with the proper perspective, we fall into sin. Christians can become envious of the wicked. Scripture contains many warnings about this, so the danger is more common and is a greater threat than we might first think. Job spoke about the prosperity of the wicked with the friends who came to comfort him. David warns us about this in Psalm 37, as does Asaph in Psalm 73. Although verses 31-32 come near the end of only the third chapter in Proverbs, Solomon has instructed us before on nearly the same topic.
Solomon introduces us to an oppressor. This oppressor is a man of violence. He takes things away from people. There were robbers in biblical times. Bands of robbers hid in the hills near highways. They would wait for a caravan of merchants, small groups of tradesmen or the lone traveller. They ambushed their victim and shared the spoils.
However, this violence does not have to be physical. Oppressors twist the law to take advantage of people. Christ was angry with those who did not honour their parents by supporting them if they needed help in their old age. These oppressors claimed the money they had was set aside for a gift. Therefore, they could not assist their parents and they could keep their money. Houses and property were stolen by deceit and corrupt judgment. Merchants used false balances or corrupt measures to cheat their customers by small degrees. Add together enough small thefts, and profits increased.
Why would we envy these people? They are dirty, rotten scoundrels! Does society really honour them? But, you see, they get away with it! They can live comfortably, perhaps even in luxury, but they haven’t really earned it. We can then become too earthly minded and envy what they have. We labour diligently, striving to treat the neighbour as we should, but what is there to show for it? We struggle, work hard and carefully manage what we have simply to try to make ends meet. Obedience does not profit! We may even begin to wonder how often we have been taken advantage of. How much of our hard-earned money goes into the velvet pockets of these crooks?
Solomon warns us not to choose any of his ways, not even one. Perhaps we thought we could try just a couple of the tricks which aren’t so dastardly. Such practices are fairly common, and could even be viewed as part of doing business. Do I have to be the only honest businessman here? Are these temptations greater given these challenging economic times? Wages decrease, are stagnant or rise at a snail’s pace. We begin to view the government’s taxation as legalized theft. Why not try one trick of the oppressor to even things out?
Solomon tells us God’s point of view and why we should not be envious or try any of their ways. We must have a long range view of what is happening. The oppressor, now called the froward, someone who is perverse and has twisted truth and right past recognition, is an abomination to the Lord.
What do we think about something that is an abomination us? Would we keep it close to us? Would we let it stay with us in the house? Would we hold it tenderly in our hands? Would we cherish it? Would we give everything we had to preserve it? The oppressors may prosper here but the day comes when they will fall into the hands of a God who is angry with them. Their end will not be prosperous. God drives them away and has no tender fellowship with them.
On the other hand, God will have His secret with the righteous. We share secrets with those who are dear to us and whom we trust, not strangers. A secret implies a level of friendship and fellowship. There is closeness as well. We don’t discuss secrets in crowded, noisy, public places. The righteous will have fellowship with God. He makes known to us His love for His church. He reveals the way of salvation and friendship with him in Jesus Christ.
These blessings are for the righteous. Our lives can be difficult. Obeying God means we will have to make sacrifices. We must keep in mind what God has in store for His people in the end.