For God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity,
but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his company experience it.
But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be a disaster,
and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
For though in the sight of others they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;
like gold in the furnace he tried them,
and like a sacrificial burnt-offering he accepted them.
In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,
and will run like sparks through the stubble.
They will govern nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord will reign over them for ever.
Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will abide with him in love,
because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones,
and he watches over his elect.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Prior to this passage in Wisdom, various philosophies of life associated with the “foolish” are mentioned. One foolish way of looking at life is that we are born by mere chance and will become nonexistent at death (Wisdom 2:2). Another is that all that exists is the material (Wis. 2:3). A third is hedonism, which holds that physical and temporal pleasure is life’s goal (Wis. 2:7). Relativism is perhaps the most “foolish,” holding that there is no objective moral order and that power alone establishes right and wrong: “Let our might be our law of right, for what is weak proves itself to be useless” (Wis. 2:11).
The philosophy of the “righteous,” however, is in this line: “For God created us for incorruption” (Wis. 2:23). In contrast to these “foolish” philosophies, which commonly hold that all there is to life is what is here and now, the “righteous” understand that we live on after death—we live on forever. In light of this reality, the Christian is able to bear the hardships of this life and faithfully carry out God’s commands. This is only possible in Christ, who submitted himself to the cross so that we may be restored to the state of incorruption. Rather than exert power or might, Christ “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant … and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). It is in this humble submission to the cross that the Christian becomes truly strong and finds true peace—it is through the cross that we become restored to incorruptibility.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine.
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