I think we have all pondered the reverse of this title- why do bad things happen to good people? It is always troubling, but most people accept and understand that bad things happen to everyone.
But for most people- myself included- who believe that God, Karma, or the criminal justice system should be making sure bad people get what they deserve- it can be more disconcerting seeing the schmucks and rascals among us getting things they don’t deserve.
And, just like understanding that sometimes people don’t deserve the bad things they get- sometimes people also don’t deserve the good things that regularly roll their way.
So why does it happen?
The Sun rises on the evil and the good
In Matthew 5:45, Jesus tells us that God “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” From that verse we learn that in the same way bad things happen to everyone, so do good things.
Sometimes, just by proximity or relationship, bad people are the beneficiaries of the labors or blessings of the good people in their lives. We see this happen in our families, jobs, communities, and churches. Don’t be resentful the undeserving are benefitting from your efforts, just be grateful that your efforts are producing good results. It is not easy to take that high-minded approach, but the end result is much better than the aggravation and resentment of not taking that approach.
Edmund Burke’s oft-quoted observation “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” provides another proactive perspective to the question. Are bad people prospering because you are too afraid/lazy/indifferent to do anything about it? If so, careful and prayerful consideration of what you and others can do to right these wrongs is necessary. Sometimes, simply exposing the nonsense people are up to is the solution per another oft-quoted saying “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.”
If someone is stealing from the store or abusing their spouse/children and you don’t report it, then you are giving tacit approval to their evil and are as guilty as they are.
Do you know what “good things” are?
You might be saying “well of course I know what good things are”- but maybe you don’t. And I say this because many of your churches don’t. And if you are attending one of these preachers of “prosperity gospel” then you clearly don’t understand what good things are either.
There is a proliferation of churches these days who teach that if you are a “true believer”, then God is going to bless you with financial security, wonderful health, and fantastic relationships. Your “good life now”.
These are damnable doctrines, and are putting your soul in jeopardy. God has promised no one any such thing. If your church is telling you to pray for a “check in the mail”- as a local Evangelical church I visited taught-then neither you nor that church has any comprehension of good things or true gifts of the Spirit.
“But our church is prospering and growing and bringing many souls to Christ!” or “Our church is bringing forth good fruits!” many have told me…
Sometimes good things happen to bad churches too. For all the same reasons.
Where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt
John D. Rockefeller, one of America’s first and most famous multi-millionaires, was once asked “how much money is enough?” His reply- “Just a little bit more.” Money can become your hunger, your passion.
Money and material things do not satisfy the soul.
Have you ever thought “if only I was rich, or at least well- off, I would be happy”? Then you should consider the statistics of lottery winners. A large percentage of them lose all of the money within three years. A significant number of them end up in therapy that they didn’t need before their good fortune. And many of them report the sad end to family and relationships.
What may appear to be “good things” are quite often just the opposite.
Matthew 6:19-21 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
If you have been fortunate financially, and there is nothing wrong with being successful, you should give thanks and remember: God did not bless you to raise your standard of living; rather to raise your standard of giving.