Q: Why do wicked people live longer in their wickedness without conspicuous evidence of God’s judgment on their lives?
A: There certainly is no shortage of supposedly wicked people these days. There have always been those who take unfair advantage of others, and who appear to live relatively carefree lives in spite of their wickedness. I understand why this is disturbing to you…none of us likes to see this.
Unfortunately, there will likely always be those who embrace evil ways. When human beings have the choice of freewill—when the choice of good or evil is given—there will always be some who choose evil and sin. Even Jesus said: “…some people are really wicked at heart; they deliberately choose to do mean things…”
On the material plane, the wicked may be seen to get away with a lot of bad behavior—even live long and outwardly prosperous lives. But don’t be fooled by that. Eventually, all unrepentant wickedness is dealt with by God’s justice
We are given a lot of leeway here on this earth…we can choose goodness and live lives of freedom and originality with God, or we can choose evil, and allow wickedness to creep into our lives and distort our souls. But the fruits of these choices are very different. The fruits of the righteous are joy in the Spirit, while the wicked lead troubled lives. Again, Jesus, quoting Scripture said: `The wicked flee when no man pursues.’ `The wicked are like the troubled sea, for it cannot rest, but its waters cast up mire and dirt; there is no peace, says God, for the wicked.’
So, even though it may appear to the on-looker that a wicked person has it made, this is not the case. In this same section from which the above quote was taken, Jesus speaks to us of contentment, and how different it is from the life of evildoing:
“Simon, some persons are naturally more happy than others. Much, very much, depends upon the willingness of man to be led and directed by the Father’s spirit which lives within him. Have you not read in the Scripture the words of the wise man, `The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts’? And also that such spirit-led mortals say: `The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a goodly heritage.’ `A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked,’ for `a good man shall be satisfied from within himself.’ `A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance and is a continual feast. Better is a little with the reverence of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred therewith. Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without rectitude.’ `A merry heart does good like a medicine.’ `Better is a handful with composure than a superabundance with sorrow and vexation of spirit.’
“Much of man’s sorrow is born of the disappointment of his ambitions and the wounding of his pride. Although men owe a duty to themselves to make the best of their lives on earth, having thus sincerely exerted themselves, they should cheerfully accept their lot and exercise ingenuity in making the most of that which has fallen to their hands. All too many of man’s troubles take origin in the fear soil of his own natural heart. `The wicked flee when no man pursues.’ `The wicked are like the troubled sea, for it cannot rest, but its waters cast up mire and dirt; there is no peace, says God, for the wicked.’
“Seek not, then, for false peace and transient joy but rather for the assurance of faith and the sureties of divine sonship which yield composure, contentment, and supreme joy in the spirit.” (149:5.2)
In the end, it is those who seek goodness who also possesses joy and peace. Even though they may not possess the world’s riches or ill-gotten gains, they do possess an inner peace that the deliberately wicked can never possess.
Finally, this passage from a discourse that Jesus gave to his apostles on affairs of the kingdom:
“He never ceased to warn his disciples against the evil practice of retaliation; he made no allowance for revenge, the idea of getting even. He deplored the holding of grudges. He disallowed the idea of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. He discountenanced the whole concept of private and personal revenge, assigning these matters to civil government, on the one hand, and to the judgment of God, on the other. He made it clear to the three that his teachings applied to the individual, not the state. He summarized his instructions up to that time regarding these matters, as:
Love your enemies—remember the moral claims of human brotherhood.
The futility of evil: A wrong is not righted by vengeance. Do not make the mistake of fighting evil with its own weapons.
Have faith—confidence in the eventual triumph of divine justice and eternal goodness.” (140:8.5)
That last sentence is of greatest importance when perplexed by the phenomenon of wickedness in the world.