What, then, is difference between the plans of the righteous and those of the wicked?
What is the hope of the righteous? What are the expectations of the wicked? This contrast is important to understand. The phrasing of this proverb is elliptical. It implies that joy of the righteous comes from the fulfillment of their hopes. The expectations of the wicked, on the other hand, perish. What, then, is difference between the plans of the righteous and those of the wicked?
The plans of the wicked are the products of false expectations. They are always oriented exclusively toward the self. All their plans are conceived and designed to fulfill selfish desires. The wicked plan and do all things solely for their own aggrandizement. Their whole concern is for the self at the expense, if necessary, of all others. The wicked conceive of the world as a problem to be overcome, rather than a gift to be thankful for. They see all others as competitors. Or, they see themselves as greater than the other, and treat the other accordingly. As a result they are riven with fears, fears that others will surpass them in importance, or that they will not be able to get what they desire. They demand respect from others, but give none in return. They live in a dog-eat-dog world. As a result, their selfish expectations always fall short and they suffer from constant bitterness, jealousy, and angst. They are not happy because their expectations eventually go unfulfilled, they “perish.”
On the other hand, the hope of the righteous is always for the good. They live humbly. They willingly submit to the law of God because they recognize that it is an expression of God’s love for them. They see the wisdom of obeying God’s law of love and how it liberates them from the prison of selfishness to seek the good of others, even if that means that they must suffer awhile, so that others might be lifted up from their suffering. The righteous hope in God alone, not in the fleeting powers, or pleasures of the material world. Since the hope of the righteous is in God, and because they love God with their whole hearts, minds, and souls, they are able to willingly love their neighbors as themselves. When they act toward others out of this hope, they find themselves fulfilled, even in the face of apparent failure. Why? Because they know that in loving God in this way, he will fulfill their greatest hope to one day be with him in heaven for eternity.
Lord, help us to be righteous in our love for you. Our hope is always in your eternal love for us. Fulfill our hopes, Lord, make us joyful servants of your infinite love to our families, our neighbors, and even our enemies. We pray in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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