“I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil. But when I looked again, they were gone! Though I searched for them, I could not find them” (Psalm 37:35-36, NLT)!
To flourish is to be successful—to prosper. One definition says it means to thrive and grow like a plant. I thrive spiritually in whatever has claimed my heart—whether it is God or the world. If the Lord has claimed my heart my native soil is the nourishment I draw from Him and His Word. He is my light and sustenance. If the world has claimed my heart my native soil is the love of self above all others. I thrive in the darkness and put down roots in my own selfishness and sin.
How many times have I looked upon the ruthlessness of others and wish they would disappear—only for nothing to change? How many times has frustration and anger at their wickedness overshadowed my ability to see my own pettiness? Have I been so focused on the wickedness of others that I have missed what has resided within my own heart? When I truly allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the motives of my own heart I may discover that bitterness and unforgiveness are hidden within its chambers. The anger or frustration I feel when I see others flourishing in wickedness perhaps needs to be aimed at my own heart—bringing me to a point of repentance.
Yes, I have seen the wicked and ruthless flourishing in this world. Yes, it breaks my heart. But what breaks my heart more is my own selfishness and inability to recognize when I have allowed the wickedness and ruthlessness of others to change who I am—when I have allowed their behavior to bring me to a place of bitterness and even unforgiveness. When that happens I have not prayed for them. I have not loved them enough to bring them before His throne. When that happens I have not allowed the Holy Spirit to reveal the motives of my own heart and change my own attitude—to one of grace that shares His love without hesitation.
I see a promise in this verse in Psalm. “But when I looked again, they were gone! Though I searched for them I could not find them” (Psalm 37:36, NLT). Why are the wicked suddenly gone? Yes, perhaps God has removed them. But perhaps God has also changed my own heart—to see with His eyes—to hear with His ears—to understand with His understanding—to love with His heart. When I have allowed Him to change the attitude of my own heart then I will see the unrealized desperation of those who have rejected His love. I will see their unrealized heart’s cry to be released from their own bondage of selfishness and sin. What is real within me then has the opportunity to become real within them. I go in love. I share in love. I see through the eyes of His grace that gave all for me. And perhaps with allowing Him to use me I can be a part of a greater amazing revelation. One day when I search for the ruthless I will not find them. His light will have come. And it will have begun in my own heart.
(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)