Proverbs 17:13

Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.

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It is sin to repay evil for evil, for vengeance belongs to God (Rom 12:17; I Thess 5:15; I Pet 3:9). But it is even worse to repay evil for good, for that shows a brutish and devilish heart. The consequences for such vile conduct are certain – God will severely judge you with perpetual trouble. It is your duty and privilege to return goodness for goodness.

There are two lessons here. First, you should soberly consider all those that have treated you well in your life. Have you honored them? Have you kindly rewarded their goodness? Second, you should consider those that have despised your goodness. Do not contemplate personal vengeance. God will grind them for you, and the Lord grinds best.

Noah, a godly father, saved his son Ham and Ham’s wife from the Flood by his personal righteousness (Gen 6:8-10; 7:1). But when Ham sinned against his father, his family tree was perpetually cursed (Gen 9:18-27). Beware reader, the Lord will grind such men.

David killed Goliath for timid Saul and served him well (I Sam 17:50-53; 18:5). But Saul was jealous of this godly man and tried to kill him, so God destroyed Saul’s family and gave the ruling power to the tribe of Judah (I Sam 19:1; 25:28-31; II Sam 6:21). Much of his reign was ruined by the envy that consumed his soul and left him hopeless in the end.

David kindly protected Nabal’s sheep and shepherds (I Sa 25:4-17). When Nabal rejected an honorable request from David, God let him suffer for ten days before killing him and giving his beautiful widow to David (I Sam 25:36-42). Consider your benefactors!

The Lord Jesus befriended and honored Judas Iscariot as one of His twelve apostles. But Judas chose to betray Jesus for a few pieces of silver, so the blessed and holy God dashed his bowels and blood across the potter’s field (Acts 1:18-19; Ps 109:1-20). Both David and Jesus encountered many such traitors in their lives (Ps 35:12; 38:20; 55:12-15).

Jesus Christ was Israel’s Messiah. He preached truth and healed all that came to Him for three years. But the Jews wickedly crucified Him, so God brought Roman armies in 70 A.D. to demolish their nation (Matt 21:44; 22:7; Luke 19:42-44). The Lord grinds best.

Is the warning too harsh? You have not rightly considered the crime. To repay evil for good is profanely selfish; it is beastly and despicable; it reveals a heart black with ungratefulness; it deserves severe judgment. Consider Jeremiah’s hard prayer for God’s vengeance on the Jews persecuting him for preaching the truth (Jer 18:18-23).

Jesus told His apostles to judge every house and city they entered. If the city neglected their gospel, they were to shake off the dust of their shoes against that city. In the Day of Judgment, Jesus promised to be more merciful to Sodom and Gomorrah (Matt 10:12-15).

Now reader, it is your turn! Do you reward evil for good to those who have treated you kindly and well? Every time someone does something good for you, there is a debt created for your kindness in return. Do you pay your debts of care and kindness? Do not get unduly angry against Saul, Nabal, Judas, and the Jews. Try some self-examination!

Have you rewarded your parents for the love, time, effort, and expense they invested in you, while you were demanding food, dirtying yourself, and then giving them teenage nightmares? When was the last time you took them out to eat? Wrote them and thanked them for being great parents? Bought them a gift? Spent a little on them in some way?

Have you matched your spouse in affection and companionship? Have you honored your employer for hiring you? Have you compensated your pastor for teaching you the truth? Do you praise policemen for protecting you at night? Do you reward good neighbors for making life pleasant? Do you thank your children for taking their time to visit you?

Teenager! One of the vilest criminals in the world is a child who disrespects and rebels against his parents. After all they have done for you, how can you possibly mistreat them in the slightest way? You should be honoring them like a king and queen. You deserve to die a painful death (Ex 21:15,17; Lev 20:9; Deut 21:18-21; 27:16; Pr 20:20; 30:17).

This proverb can be taken a step farther. The best of men, true Christians, actually reward good for evil (Rom 12:17-21). They love their enemies; they bless those that curse them; they do good to those that hate them; and they pray for those that despitefully use them and persecute them (Matt 5:43-48). This conduct proves they are the children of God.

The blessed God showed the greatest goodness in the universe by giving His only begotten Son to save His elect. What was their condition? They were His evil enemies (Rom 5:8-10). He rewarded good for evil to the praise of God’s glorious grace (Eph 1:3-12). If you want to act like a child of God, reward good for evil yourself (Rom 12:21).