Rabbi Chiya opens a discussion about the most significant choice that each of us must make, whether to follow the Evil Inclination - a force present and persuasive from the moment of human conception - or the Good Inclination, which does not express itself until a person is thirteen years of age. A righteous individual, we learn, is one who does not put credence in the Evil Inclination, but rather, waits for the arrival of the Good.
While those who follow the Evil Inclination shall certainly suffer in the World to Come, the righteous are also made to suffer trials and afflictions in this world, precisely because they do not associate with the Other Side, whose realm this is. Yet, God will the deliver the righteous from all ills. As He did for Jacob, God protects the righteous from severe judgment by removing them from the world at the time of judgment, or by postponing judgment.
Living in a dimension of time and space, we may fall into the delusion that our negative behavior bears fruit, while positive deeds go unrewarded. This illusion is fueled by our concept of time, which delays both judgment and reward. Our concepts of space and separation redirect due judgments and Light to different areas of our lives. Thus, we might behave unethically in business and reap financial reward. Judgment might then be directed towards our health, but we may fail to see a connection, believing instead that life is chaotic and random. Likewise, we might conduct our business affairs justly and honorably, yet profits fail to rise. However, we fail to notice that our children - who represent true fulfillment - have suddenly drawn closer to us. Or previous negative behavior may have destined us for chaos involving an auto accident [God Forbid], but the Light generated from a sharing action performed many years earlier averts catastrophe, without any awareness on our part of what might have been. All this is intended to allow us to exercise free will and to play an active role in our own fulfillment. This passage illuminates the forces of cause and effect, so that we may live with them in harmony. We gain the protection of time -- time to change our ways before the severe judgments owed us are executed.