Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day. Surely, there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. (ESV)
Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.(NIV)
Don’t envy sinners, but always continue to fear the Lord. You will be rewarded for this; your hope will not be disappointed. (NLT)
From Rules to Freedom
It's easy to be enticed by the appearance of success and pleasures of those who follow a different, more worldly path. We witness people around us seemingly thriving, achieving their goals, and enjoying freedom and pleasures, and sometimes wonder if we're missing out by following the Christian path.
The transition from high school to college is often a time of newfound freedom, where we are faced with numerous choices and temptations. Like others, I vividly remember experiencing such thoughts during my first year in college. I thought, "Life would be so much simpler and easier without all these rules." It was a season of internal struggle, a tug-of-war between the desire for worldly freedom and staying faithful to the foundation of values instilled in me.
During this critical period, God's faithfulness became remarkably evident. He placed people in my life who served as reminders that the path of hope, integrity, and righteousness is not just the right one but is actually the better one.
I realized that I had been caught in a spiral of merely following rules without truly understanding their purpose. I was going through the motions, following a set of guidelines without knowing the profound intention behind them, the intention for my flourishing and good. It was at this point that I came to understand the importance of not following mere rules but instead cultivating a heart of gratitude and abiding in a deep friendship with God.
This shift in perspective changed my life. Instead of seeing God's rules as restrictive and burdensome, I began to view them as a true kind of freedom. It wasn't the freedom to do anything I pleased without restraint, but instead, it was the freedom to walk in the light, find purpose, experience authenticity, be fully seen, and still fully loved. It was the liberty to do all things for the Glory of God, being truly satisfied in Him. I learned that the path of hope wasn't about rules for the sake of rules, but it was about aligning my heart and actions with God's love, wisdom, and grace, which produce the beautiful gift of the fruit of the Spirit.
This is a journey that continues, a daily choice to abide in grateful obedience and to seek a deeper connection with the One who knows the plans He has for me–plans for a future filled with hope and goodness. In a world that often tempts us with shortcuts to success and instant yet fleeting pleasures, I've discovered that abiding in God's love and following His path brings lasting joy, peace, and an unwavering sense of purpose. True freedom isn't measured by worldly standards of unrestrained pleasure but by a life rooted in faith, guided by gratitude, and defined by a hope that will never be cut off.
Don’t let your heart envy sinners, for what you will forget in doing so is that they only have a perception of freedom and joy that is quickly fading away. The things that the world calls freedom will eventually enslave you to your desires and a “life” that will eventually lead to sadness, destruction, worry, and pain. God doesn’t keep good things from His children, but he certainly keeps them from sugar-coated poison. Christianity is not about following rules but instead about following Jesus, our founder, perfector, and creator who knows all things, chooses to love us, and desires to guide us into perfect unity with Him. When we truly believe this and walk in the gratitude of salvation, we will find freedom in the fear of the Lord, our hearts will no longer envy sinners, and our gaze will be fixed on the hope for our future.
Written by Blake Stanley
Challenge: Journal five ways where you’ve experienced in your life that the “right” thing was also the best thing that led to greater flourishing and joy.