7 The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.
When we think about the “name of the wicked,” it can be easy to think about those extreme characters within the history of mankind. It can also be easy to think about people in our lives. Mankind is capable of a lot of wickedness, and we don’t have to look far to see it.
In-fact, if we want to see what mankind is capable of, all we really need to do is look at ourselves.
It can be easy to look at the sins of others, but if we consider ourselves to be among the “just” while someone else is among the “wicked,” then we are at risk of having a holier-than-thou mindset. To God, this is “a smoke in my nose, a fire that burns all the day.”
It is true that some people are more harmful than others, but a step in the direction of becoming holier-than-thou can lead us off a cliff. We focus on a certain wickedness in the world, find influential people who do the same, pledge our allegiance to these leaders and to our so-called righteous cause, then before long we feel completely just in our murderous actions towards others.
We see this a lot in the world today.
No one feels justified in destroying another human being like a person who rides on the red horse of self-righteous indignation—and these are not counted among the just, as they so esteem themselves—but among the wicked, the proud, the blind, the starving, and the dead.
It is kind of ironic. Those who consider themselves to be on the side of the “just” are often considered by God to be on the side of the “wicked.” We should not be so proud to think that we are immune to this.
There are many opportunities for falling into this trap in both large and small ways. However, if we look at our own sin first and foremost—including the sins for which we were graciously led away from by the mercy of God towards us—then we are more likely to stand in a humbled mindset that is not as prone to the blindness of the proud.
It is blindness to murder other human beings, and as Jesus teaches, murder occurs on a spectrum and none of us have clean hands in this. We have all killed, at least in the spirit, and we are all worthy of death.
Yet, though we are worthy of death, we have the blood of the Son of God covering us. We have His righteousness covering us and growing within us, transforming us into His likeness. We are even given a new name in the Kingdom of Heaven—a name, that as the name of Jesus Christ, will never pass away.
However, our old self must pass away. All things that belong to death must pass away, and that includes us. Should we remember our old self? Will we remember the wicked in the Kingdom of Heaven?
If we have progressed in righteous living, then taking some time to remember where we were brought from can be good for us. We should remember. Just as God’s people of old remembered how He brought them up out of the bondage of Egypt, we should remember how Jesus led us away from a life of bondage to sin.
We should never forget our sin and the mercy and grace of God in the person of Jesus that was shown to us—a grace and mercy that we do not deserve any more than anyone else.
However, in times of great distress and persecution, we can take comfort in knowing that the Lord does see the suffering of His saints and He will repay. The name of the wicked will rot and they will experience the second death.
Though their name will rot, we will not forget. “The smoke of their torment ascended up forever and ever.” I believe that we will always know what Jesus did for us and we will never forget the fate of those who received His wrath instead of His mercy. We will be forever grateful and humbled before God. If it will be so in the eternity, then we should seek to have the same mindset now.
I want to remember the smoke of my own torment. A life of sin is torment. Being bound to sin that I cannot escape is torment. Going through hardship in this life as necessary to find freedom from sinful living is torment. Having my faith tried “as by fire” is torment. This life is torment—but the end thereof is Christ—and we have so much to look forward to.
When the torment is too much, we can have hope in all that we stand to inherit in the Kingdom of Heaven—and we should strive to endure with patience in our torment so that we do not justify tormenting others. If we can stand in such a manner, I believe that there is peace for us and a glorious entry into the Kingdom of our Lord, Jesus Christ.