20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil,
but those who promote peace have joy.
21 No harm overtakes the righteous,
but the wicked have their fill of trouble.
Happiness begins in the heart. Standard of living may be determined by what a person has on the outside, but quality of life is a matter of what lies within. Those who allow sin to take root in their hearts – whether envy, greed, anger or pride – are easily deceived. Temptation tells them they will be better off by taking advantage of others, but even the most successful evil plans fail to address the real issue.
“But those who promote peace have joy.” Is there something in your heart that is stealing your peace? It may be painful to uproot it, but this is the key to joy. Honor those you are tempted to envy, be generous when you are tempted by greed, forgive when anger threatens to take hold, and humble yourself against the deceitfulness of pride. It is an issue of hygiene, no one else can clean your heart for you, and the sooner you do it the happier you will be.
“No harm overtakes the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble.” No one is exempt from harm in this life, but the question is whether we are overtaken by it. The righteous and wicked differ in many ways, the most important of which is trust – or the lack thereof – in the Lord. The righteous are able to say “I don’t see why the Lord is letting this happen, but he often has reasons beyond my understanding.” But the wicked have nothing to protect them from the temptation to despair, the storms which strengthen the righteous expose the vulnerability of those who trust only themselves.