Proverbs 28:5 (NIV)
Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully.
This deceptively simple proverb unveils three truths about relationships.
- Justice (“what is right”) is a relationship issue. When we are unjust, our selfish choices cause harm and suffering in others.
- We choose whether to approach our relationships as people with selfish intent (“evildoers”) or surrendered to God’s purpose (“those who seek the LORD”).
- Those who seek God understand fully what evildoers cannot understand. To “fully understand” injustice means not only to grasp a situation intellectually but also to care about its consequences. Evildoers may not see how their actions hurt others, or if they do see, they lack the compassion to care. Those who seek God, on the other hand, have the mind of Christ. They cannot see injustice without seeing also the suffering involved and be moved to make things right.
The evildoers in this proverb are spiritually blind. Without excusing hurtful behavior, the proverb helps us to understand how people can and do willfully hurt each other, even among friends and family members, with abuse and violence, treachery and abandonment. Selfish intent overrides moral integrity, justifies the unconscionable, and promotes evil in our closest circles.
Even God-followers can fall into the trap of doing the work of evil in our relationships. When I am not seeking God’s ways, I am apt to make choices selfishly, limited by my own needs and desires. I can be tempted to rationalize my actions and blind myself to the suffering I cause.
God calls us to a better way, the way of Jesus, who showed us how to love sacrificially, to recognize when others are suffering from injustice of any kind, and to feel moved to make things right, starting with ourselves.
FATHER, I have been the victim of cruelty I could not explain. I have suffered at the hands of people who would not acknowledge the pain they caused me. Help me to look past their evil actions and see hearts that are blind and in desperate need of your light and truth. Give me the compassion I need to forgive these people. Forgive me also, Lord, for the evil work I’ve done in my relationships. Give me wisdom and courage to set things right wherever I can.
Matthew 9:36-37; Colossians 3:12-14
What does it mean to forgive a person for an unforgivable act?