Last week I wrote a blog answering (in part) why bad things happen to good people. You can read it here. Today, I address the flip side of the coin answering why good things happen to bad people. As before, I see four answers that can be given.
- God loves his enemies. Jesus told the crowds during his sermon on the mount, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven,'” (Matthew 5:43-45a, ESV). The idea of the “so that you may be sons of your Father,” phrase is not a “do this and you’ll be accepted by God” idea, but a “if you are sons of God, you will imitate Him and love your enemies” idea. How do I know? The rest of Matthew 5:45. “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust,” (ESV). Living in an agrarian part of the world, sun and rain were important for growing crops. Jesus’ point is that God has a general grace upon all. He loves his enemies and sends good things his way, just like all the “good” people. (See last point).
- God gives an opportunity for repentance. Good things happen to bad people because God is giving them an opportunity to see that He is gracious and loving and they are wicked and unworthy. “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience,” Paul asked, “not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4, ESV). Remember, at one time we were all “bad” people. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8, ESV). God affords his kindnesses not only to us, but to his enemies at large.
- God gives more rope. The more that God gives his love and kindness, and the more that people reject it, the more rope they are attaining with which they hang themselves. In the 73rd Psalm, Asaph is contemplating rather angrily why the wicked prosper. He is frustrated, “until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors,” (vv. 17-19, ESV). As Paul wrote about those who receive God’s kindness, but will not repent, “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed,” (Romans 2:5, ESV).
- If only good things happened to good people, then no one would receive any good at all. As indicated last week, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one,” (Romans 3:10-12, ESV). Unless God brings good things to bad people, no one would ever receive anything good. We think our lives are bad and that bad guys’ lives look pretty good. In reality, if God did not grant good in this world, we would long for the worst of our current bad days.
I would definitely recommend reading Psalm 73. You may identify with Asaph’s feelings and thoughts. Then pray that you too will come to his conclusion.