What Can the Righteous Do?
Updated: Mar 24
The story of our world in this day in time is that every country, every religion, every household, is susceptible to being victimized by Satan. The clockwork mass shootings in America that paralyze us in fear every few weeks, the terrorist attacks around the world that horrify us, they remind us that we are all victims of Satan's murderous plans. All mankind, not just Christians, are susceptible to Satan's evil intentions. He goes to and fro seeking whomever he may devour and he exists only to steal, kill and destroy. Every human being is in Satan’s cross hairs and he simply uses human victims to victimize other humans. This is the enemy we are up against.
And so the question that must be asked is, what can we do? What can the righteous do about the evil in the world? What can the righteous do about the pain that Satan is unleashing upon the human race.
The righteous are those who can say as verse 1 in our text says, “In the Lord I put my trust.” The righteous are those who believe in the Lord Jesus as savior and have received God’s forgiveness of sin through the blood of Christ. The righteous are those who are filled with and led by the Spirit of the living God.
Moreover, the righteous are those who Jesus spoke of when he said, “On this rock I have built my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” The righteous are those who have been commissioned by the Lord to attack the forces of evil, to save others from bondage to Satan, and to reduce his influence on earth.
Thus, it’s the righteous who ought to look at the evil in the world and think “How can you say to my soul, ‘Flee as a bird to your mountain?’” How dare I run away and hide? How dare I sit back and do nothing? How dare I look out for my own comfort and ease of living while others suffer?
The righteous say like verse 2 “Look, the wicked bend their bow. They make ready their arrow on the string, that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.” The righteous see how the wicked wage war simply for conquest and pride. How they drop bombs on soldiers and children alike simply to reinforce their own sense of superiority. How they create toxins and diseases in order to wipe out whole populations of innocent people. How they open fire in malls, churches, schools, and work places with no other motivation than to slaughter as many unsuspecting people as possible. How they shoot at each other in the streets for territory that is not theirs, and kill innocent bystanders. How the wicked kidnap and enslave, and buy and sell humans as property. The wicked rape and molest. How they promote sexual immorality and excuse sexual deviancy. The wicked rob and cheat. How they take advantage of the poor, the elderly, and the sick. How they revel in intoxication and debauchery. How they flood the streets with drugs and ruin young minds.
And the question is, what can the righteous do? What can we do about the evil that permeates this world? What can we do about the suffering and the struggle that results from the actions of the wicked? What can we do to ignite the embers of love in this world, because it appears to grow cold minute by minute and hour by hour? What can we do to combat exploitation—to elevate the downtrodden and encourage the disadvantaged. What can we do to bring good tidings to the poor? What can we do to heal the broken hearted? What can we do provide liberty to those held captive within the gates of hell, and to open the prison cells of those who are bound? What can the righteous do?
When I think about this, I think about a story a friend told me a few weeks ago. She went to a convention for her job with all the other employees across the country who work in her division. And while they were there, they decided as a group to donate money to the employee relief fund, which is a fund that the company established to help employees financially in times of tragedy or catastrophic events. They committed themselves to the amount of $5,000 total. When the vice president of the company heard about it, he came in and pledged that he would personally match whatever amount they raised. And then he started crying and he told them he remembers the days when he was a young husband and father in the army, deployed overseas, and his family back home had to rely on government assistance to survive. And he made the statement that employees of the company should be able to depend on one another for help. The convention exceeded its goal of $5,000 and raised $11,000. The Vice President matched the $11,000 and then other corporate leaders chipped in as well. By the end of the week a $5,000 pledge had turned into $50,000 in the employee relief fund.
I’m reminded further of the work of journalists around the world who risk their lives to uncover stories of government corruption and atrocities. People who could make good many writing feel good stories, risk being murdered or imprisoned for the sake of bringing out the truth and calling others to action.
And I'm reminded of the survivors of the Parkland shooting in Florida, High school students who saw classmates be gunned down, and how they organized and mobilized and lobbied their state to enact better gun control laws. And took their fight to congress and challenged the most powerful men and women in our country to do better and protect their people.
There are many groups within our country and the world that are trying to make it a better place. They see evil for what it is and they are working to combat it the best they can.
But they are limited in what they can do. Companies cannot, by themselves, end poverty and exploitation of the poor. Journalists cannot end governmental corruption. The Parkland Survivors cannot end mass shootings.
Their efforts go a long way, but it’s the church who has been given the power to combat evil in the world. It’s the church who has been commissioned by God to heal mankind. It’s to the church that Christ said the gates of Hell shall not prevail against you.
While every group and individual who endeavors to better our world is a good and necessary ally, it’s the church that should lead the charge, because only the church has the God-given power to invade the kingdom of Hell.
That’s why Jesus called us the light of the world, because we have been given the power to bring those who dwell in the darkness of Hell into the marvelous light of salvation. That’s why he calls us the salt of the earth because we have been given the ability to preserve goodness and prevent the decay of righteousness on this planet.
It’s the church that brings about change. Haven’t we seen this within the history of the U.S. It was the church, the true believers in the North, who sowed the seeds of abolition and withstood the confederacy in order to end the slavery of Africans in the U.S. It was the church that faced off against the lynch mobs, and police dogs, and fire hoses to fight against Jim Crow laws. It was the church that pressured one of the most brazen bigots in Washington, Lyndon Baines Johnson, to spearhead the Civil rights Act of 1964, the voting rights act of 1965, and the Fair Housing act of 1968. Fixing our world is the job of the church.
But while all these other groups are doing what they can to make the world better, what are the righteous doing? What is the church of Jesus Christ actually doing? Now that Fortune 50 companies are lending a hand to those in need, what is the church doing. Now that entertainers are calling for us to have unity and civility, what is the church doing. With journalists calling us to action, what is the church doing. With our children crying out to the powers that be to at least try to come up with a solution that will stop the bloodshed of their peers, what is the church doing.
Well all to often, the church is secluded in cathedral palaces, hoping not to be bothered with the cares of the world. The church is arguing about titles and trying to wield non-existent power against one another. The church is bad mouthing and backbiting one another, and not even trying to smile in each other’s face anymore. The church can only stand to be in the house of the Lord for a couple hours on Sunday, and only then if the preaching or the music sounds good--during the week they can’t be bothered with church stuff. The church is supporting godless politicians in everything from caging up migrants at the border to killing babies in the womb. The church is seeking to fit into its worldly surroundings by supporting sexual deviancy or ignoring police brutality.
The church has reached the point where we are no longer concerned with right and wrong, and so we are certainly not concerned with our responsibilities to advance righteousness.
We have become the five churches in Revelations 2 that God threatened to remove. Like the church at Ephesus, we’ve forgotten our first love and thus our purpose. Like the church at Pergamos we’ve compromised ourselves in order to fit in to your surroundings. Like the church at Thyatira we’ve embraced false teaching and learned to do evil in the name of the Lord. Like the church at Sardis we are dead and have no good works to speak of. Like the church at Laodicea we think we are rich, and have need of nothing, but the reality is we are wretched, poor, blind, and naked.
The church today is not doing what we can and should be doing to heal our world and bring people into the kingdom of God. And because we are not standing for righteousness, because we are not fighting for justice, because we are not serving those in need, hell is enlarging it's territory. Death and destruction is increasing. And the foundations of society are caving in.
Our text asks, what can the righteous do? The righteous can increase love in this world. The righteous can set the standard for holy living, and lead people into a life worth living. The righteous can tackle poverty and provide resources to the needy. The righteous can lobby congress to enact sensible gun laws. The righteous can challenge gun sellers to stop the sale of semi-automatic rifles. The righteous can confront drug dealing in our community and help addicts get clean. The righteous can pressure hospital systems and insurance companies to make healthcare more affordable. The righteous can mentor young people and stop them from joining gangs. The righteous can teach young men to respect and admire women, and teach young women to see value in themselves beyond the male gaze. The righteous can bring Christ to those who are imprisoned so that they can be fully rehabilitated and lead a productive life. The righteous can lend a helping hand to a single parent so that her children can have the attention, care, and opportunities that every child deserves.
The righteous can do these things because God has given us the power.
Now for those who are on the fence about doing the work of the Lord, for those who have ready-made excuses, just understand this: we have a limited amount of time to be productive. You don’t have forever to do the work you’ve been called to. Jesus said, I must do the work of him who sent me while it is day, for when night comes no man can work.
And this is what our text in Psalms 11 is telling us. If the righteous run and hide, and the wicked takeover, and the foundations of society are destroyed, what can the righteous do then? What can we do once all hell breaks loose? What can we do when all that is right becomes wrong and all that is wrong becomes right? What can we do when human decency crumbles? What can we do when there is no goodness left to preserve? If we allow the gates of Hell to prevail, what can we do then?
So brothers and sisters the time for running and hiding is over. The time for excuses has passed. And the time to do the work of the Lord is upon us.
The time is now to take care of poor. To nurture the youth. To clean up the streets. To influence laws. To see the image of God in all people and to lead others in fulfilling that image. The time is now to light up the darkness. Because if it all goes to Hell, what can the righteous do then?