Truly God is good to the upright,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant;
I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For they have no pain;
their bodies are sound and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not plagued like other people....
Therefore the people turn and praise them,
and find no fault in them....
When I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I perceived their end....
Indeed those who are far from you will perish;
you put an end to those who are false to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
to tell of all your works.
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
If you've ever felt envious or jealous of those who seem to do well in this world, then this Psalm should speak to you. The psalmist believes that God is good to those who try to live a just life, yet he also sees that the wicked flourish. He asks why does God allow them to go from strength to strength.
We too notice how the wicked prosper - the criminal who sells his story to the newspapers, or the landlord who refuses to repair the tenant's houses, come to mind. Such cases often come to light. Why is it that God allows this to happen?
Well, we are not puppets on a string. We have freewill and we can live a just life or we can cheat and steal and treat others badly. So the wicked will flourish. However, all sin must be atoned for one day and the wicked are on a slippery slope. Our task is to turn to God - to see things from His perspective; to worship Him; and to try and become more like Him. We can start with removing envy and jealousy from our hearts.
keep us from being jealous of others,
or envious of how they flourish in the world.
Teach us that our task is to follow You
and become more like You.
Help us to set our sights on You,
and quieten our hearts,
knowing that we can leave others
to Your justice.