Thank God for the wicked

Why doesn’t God just get rid of the wicked now and let the righteous live in peace? Because, says St. John Chrysostom, the wicked are doing you a favor. By keeping you in spiritual shape, they do you a lot of good. And you can do them a lot of good, too.

This is why God has left the wicked in the world: so that the good may shine the brighter. Do you see how great the gain is? But the gain is not owing to the wicked, but to the courage of the good. Trees tossed about by contrary winds grow stronger.

And the wicked gain, too, by mixing with the good. They feel confused; they are ashamed; they blush in the presence of the good. Even if they do not keep from evil, nevertheless they dare what they dare in secret. And this is no small thing, not to have sins publicly committed.

For the life of the good becomes the accuser of their wickedness. “It hurts even to see him,” they say of the righteous man—and it is no small beginning of amendment to be tormented by his presence. For if the sight of the righteous man did not torment them, they wouldn’t have said that. But to be stung and pricked in the conscience when he is present would be a considerable hindrance to enjoying wickedness.

So do you see how much the good gain from the wicked, and the wicked from the good? This is why God has not set them apart, but allowed them to be mixed together.

–St. John Chrysostom, Homily 3 on the Power of Demons, 1

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