Considering Proverbs 11:31

Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner. – Proverbs 11:31

What does recompense mean? I understand this to mean, “repay” in the sense of giving someone what they are owed.

We could also say that the righteous get what they have coming in this life, and this is even more true for the wicked and the sinner.

At first when I read this, I wondered at it because it seems like the wicked do not get what is coming to them. On the contrary, they seem to get away with a lot. As for the righteous, I think of a saying that I heard once: “no good deed goes unpunished.” It seems that the righteous do not always receive good things, but trouble. Jesus Himself said that we should expect trouble if we follow Him because the world hates Him and His followers.

I have experienced this. I have done well. Why haven’t I received well? Why do I have so much trouble and why do the wicked have it easy?

Reality check.

I have been the sinner, and I have received what I had coming.

Sometimes I feel discouraged because I think that all my attempts at doing what is right are not rewarded in proportion to the effort that I put in. Most things are done in faith, hoping for some good in the future—both in this life and in the kingdom of heaven to come.  

As for my wickedness, I have received much more in comparison. I think this is a good thing. After-all, we know from the scriptures that God chastens every son that He loves.

It’s interesting to consider.

Most of the suffering that I have endured in this life has come from foolishness and sins done in youth that led me into things that I have not been able to escape. I could say that this in unfair because I was just a young and stupid person with emotional and mental problems, so I could not have done any differently. I could also say that this is unfair because the Christianity that I grew up in was easily overthrown by the sins of this word and the damage done to my heart and mind.

It was no wonder that I was a modern-day idolater, for example. Even though I grew up in this way, I was still held responsible for my sins because I was a Christian and God was not going to let me get away with it, and I have suffered quite a lot. I don’t think I’ve had a time in my life that was not full of suffering in some measure.

Yet, God is good and I do not blame Him one bit. It has been good for me. Without going through all that I have, I would not have real understanding of how wise and good the things of God are. I would not have real care and longing for righteousness and for His kingdom.

Though I still suffer many things, and though I try to be more faithful with all that He has given me, I do not see the recompense readily. I see changes in me as I have died to self and seen Christ form in me, but there is more to be formed for certain and I have to wait for this to happen. I have to wait to see what will be in faith, knowing that when Jesus returns, we will be as He is. I have to wait to see what my efforts will mean for my children in faith, hoping that they will grow into strong men of God despite many obstacles that come against us.

When I consider it all, I can’t say anything but how good God is. How gracious and merciful. If it were not for Him and His intervention, I very well might not be here at all to endure these hard things, to grow, to seek Him, and to find more of His work in me. If I managed to survive bodily, I would surely be dead in spirit because I was headed to my destruction full force.

So, the suffering that I go through pales in comparison to that fate. God is good.

It did not matter that I did not know any better. It did not matter that my life made me foolish and unwell mentally. I did not matter that the Christianity I knew was lukewarm at best. I was chastened, and it was hard—and it was good.

It was worth it. It is still worth it. Every day that I get to live through hardship and seek Jesus is a good day, even when it does not feel like it because I’m still alive and I can learn. I can get stronger. I can die to self more fully and be raised in Christ in Spirit and one day bodily too.

The same goes for all of us.

If we belong to Jesus, we might suffer for our sins. His blood paid the price and we are forgiven. However, if that forgiveness does not cause us to surrender to Him, but instead we turn to idols of self or idols of people, idols of wealth, idols of comfort, idols of false spirituality, and so forth—which are real problems for many in the faith—then we can expect to suffer when He takes these things from us.

However, it will be good because everything that He does is good.  He will bring us through it all for His Name’s sake if we continue to put our trust in Him, even when it is hard and it seems as though we are going through more than we can handle. In the end, there is a reward of righteousness—the righteousness of Jesus that covers our sins and the righteousness that He works in us by the Spirit who makes us more like Him in spirit and in sincerity. We will love what is really good and really true when all else proves to be meaningless.

The more we let go of that which is meaningless, the more peace and joy we have also. Even when things are hard. There’s always something good that God is working. Sometimes we just need to look and see, and sometimes we look to the future in faith because we serve a wise, patience, merciful, generous, and good God whose promises we can trust in.

I would that the suffering was over. I know that it is far from over. Yet, there is a lot of good things to look at also and to be thankful for—especially Jesus. He has overcome all things. He will make a way for us to overcome in Him also because He said it and His word is true.

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