Proverbs 12:14

A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompence of a man’s hands shall be rendered unto him.

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There are good rewards for right speech and actions. Will you miss them in life? Will others win them, leaving you behind? The proverb’s lesson is simple, but most forget the certain compensation for righteousness. They are too concerned with the world’s ideas of success or the approval of their peers. They forget God and men will honor the godly.

Speaking right and doing right bring rewards. The world may not exalt or reward virtue, but this true proverb gives wonderful advice. If you use your mouth for kind, spiritual, and wise words, God and men will reward you with satisfying honors. And both God and men will also surely compensate you for good works of charity, godliness, and truth.

The only speech that brings good and satisfying rewards is pure and wise speech, which the proverb implies. If you use your mouth for folly, lies, or boasting, it will bring trouble (Pr 10:6,14,31; 12:18; 13:3; 18:6-7,21; 20:17). The same is true of actions – things done with your hands. Only noble deeds bring good rewards (Pr 6:17; 10:4; 26:6; Is 3:10-11).

This wicked generation says, “Only the good die young.” But their idea of good is what God calls wicked. Think Janis, James, Jimi, Jim, Marilyn, and Diana. It is dangerous times, when it becomes popular to despise those who are truly good, especially by today’s carnal Christians (II Tim 3:3). Good is out; cool is in. Good is square; sin is hip.

But that is all a lie from hell, for it is the wicked that die young (Pr 10:27; Eccl 7:17). If you want to have a happy and long life, it is by speaking and doing good (Pr 3:1-2; Ps 34:12-16; I Pet 3:10-13), including honoring your parents (Eph 6:2-3). Instead of despising good men, you should love them and follow them (Ps 37:37; 119:63; Titus 1:8).

Good speech blesses others (Pr 24:26). But the reward here is to the speaker (Pr 13:2; 15:23; 18:20). Kings will befriend a man with gracious speech (Pr 22:11). How could Pharaoh resist promoting Joseph (Gen 41:39-45)? Jonathan resist loving David (I Sam 18:1-4)? Nebuchadnezzar resist promoting Daniel (Dan 2:46-49)? What will the King of kings do for those who speak to others about Him (Mal 3:16-18)? Read it, and rejoice!

Speech earning a reward is gracious (Col 4:6), wise and kind (Pr 31:26), helpful to those in trouble (Pr 31:8-9), honest (Pr 12:22), and always thankful (I Thess 5:18). It rejects corrupt words (Eph 4:29), speaking evil of dignities (Jude 1:8), foolish talking or jesting (Eph 5:3-5), or backbiting (Pr 25:23). It blesses enemies (Matt 5:44), warns friends (Lev 19:17), comforts the feebleminded (I Thess 5:14), and honors parents (Deut 27:16).

Good speech is from a good heart (Pr 22:11; Matt 12:33-37). And a good heart also does good things. Your body is the Lord’s; He created it, and He bought it; your body is twice His (I Cor 6:13-20). No one serves God “for nought” (Job 1:9-10). Diligence will bring you before kings (Pr 22:29). Visiting widows is pure religion (Jas 1:27). Following Christ brings reward now and later (Mark 10:28-30). And so does a cup of water (Matt 10:42)!

Good deeds are the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, righteousness, and truth (Gal 5:22-23; Eph 5:9). The good works of God’s elect are the result of God’s powerful workmanship in them by regeneration (Eph 2:10). What God works in, they are to work out (Phil 2:12-13).

Bad deeds are signs of carnal Christians – self-love, coveting, boasting, pride, blasphemy, disobedience to parents, unthankful, unholy, perverted love, trucebreakers, false accusers, unruly, fierce, despisers of good people, traitors, heady, haughty, lovers of pleasures more than God, and merely a hypocritical form of religion (II Tim 3:1-5). They lose!

Good words and works are not the mere ceremony or ritual of church attendance or activities. Isaiah 58 teaches a clear distinction between outward religious compliance and true godliness affecting your relationships with others. And the rewards listed in this passage cover an incredible range of blessings far beyond this commentary.

There are rewards now for faithful Christians. First, they are rewarded in their hearts for saying or doing what is right (Pr 14:14; Gal 6:4). Then there is God’s blessing in their lives (Ps 37:4; 84:11). Then there is man’s blessing on them (Pr 17:2; 27:18). Then there is God’s compensation for any sacrifice they have made for Him (Mark 10:28-30).

There are even greater rewards later for faithful Christians. When men promise rewards for good conduct, they may forget or be hindered in paying, but this is not true with God (Heb 6:10). Though these godly saints themselves may forget or overlook their good deeds in the great Day of Judgment, the high King of heaven will not (Matt 25:31-46)!

The Bible is God’s manual for successful living, and living His way will save you from the dysfunctional problems of this wicked world and bring prosperity and success (Josh 1:6-9; Ps 1:1-3; 19:7-11; Jas 1:25). But there are also the rewards described above.

Your goal is to be like Jesus Christ. He grew in favour with God and men (Luke 2:52). His speech was gracious beyond belief (Ps 45:2; Luke 4:22). He went about doing good (Acts 10:38). He is the example Paul followed, and we should follow Paul (I Cor 11:1).

But did He not die young, you ask? He voluntarily laid down His life, forgiving the soldiers, in the ultimate act and words for His elect. What was His reward? Promoted to the pinnacle of the universe to reign forever (Phil 2:5-11; Eph 1:19-23; Heb 12:1-3)!