“But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.” — Malachi 3:15 NIV
Though many of us have been reminded since elementary school that cheaters never win, certainly one can come up with many examples of people with dubious intentions not only getting away with it, but prospering. From a student who cheats on a test which no one ever finds out about, to a high-powered professional who breaks the law, it’s comforting to think that things will even out in the end and that those who were wronged, and those doing the wronging, will get what they deserve.
That, though, can be hard, because certainly, evildoers do prosper and “they get away with it.” Though the cheating student may get caught one day, suggesting some type of justice, Malachi continues, “Then those who feared the Lord … ‘On the day when I act,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘they will be my treasured possession.’” (Mal. 3:16-17).
And therein lies a concrete comfort in ‘doing the right thing.’ The Lord makes very clear the specialness of those who fear Him. However tempting as evil may be, Malachi 3:17 reminds us that beyond the internal feeling of knowing we’re doing what’s right, people who do what’s right, as the Lord would do, are the Lord’s “treasured possession.”
My Nana goes on a walk every morning with her friends. On Fridays, they pick up trash with tongs and place it in the trashbags that they bring, usually picking up bottles outside the houses of college students living off campus from parties the night before. Though I hope and believe my Nana and her friends get some gratification from knowing the good that they do by picking up the trash, it would be easy to leave the area alone; it’s about a mile from their neighborhood and it’s not their responsibility to clean up other people’s messes. While labeling partiers who don’t clean up their trash as “evildoers” may be a bit strong, there is an element, at least in some part, of the partiers “getting away” with something.
Hopefully one day they learn their lesson, maybe by seeing three elderly women cleaning their trash for them and realizing that being more careful would be a big help to their community, but I always admire the care that my Nana and her friends have for their city and its environmental condition, substituting a Friday morning walk for a Friday morning trash collection. My Nana’s story has helped me to see how people can and do get away with things, but people can make the choice to do what is right too. My Nana, and her friends I’m sure, are special to lots of people, but Malachi 3:13-18 suggests that she and her friends are special to the Lord too.
Owen Sughrue is a junior in Leverett House studying Psychology.