When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
Almost everyone has heard of Osama bin Laden’s death in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
He was an evil man deserving of death, and death found him.
But in the heart of a Christian there should exist a healthy tension and sobriety in response to his death.
Today’s texts display this unique tension well; so what do we do?
On one hand, there are and were “shouts of gladness” at bin Laden’s death, because he deserved it. Yet, we are also instructed against this response at the falling of an enemy, and that we shouldn’t let our hearts “be glad when he stumbles”.
What this event can bring to our realization should be this: Without Jesus, I am closer in evil to Osama bin Laden than I am in holiness to God.
Without the righteousness of Jesus we are all as deserving of eternal separation as was that man (Romans 3:23-24). So our reaction is gratefulness at God’s justice visited upon this evil man, and thankfulness and sobriety at the realization that yet again, without Jesus, we would still be standing in our guilt before a just God.
Jesus died a murderer’s death in our place, let us come to him with a repentant spirit and take on the charge to “love [our] enemies and pray for those who persecute [us]” (Matthew 5:44).
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
(Matthew 5:44-45 ESV)