Together in Christ: 'Lifetime Benefits' — Proverbs 11:17

Monday, June 17, 2024

Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you.
— Proverbs 11:17 NLT

Key Thought

One of the attractive incentives for a job is a retirement plan with lifetime benefits. We don't want to invest in something that doesn't offer us a good return on our investment! Kindness is one of those investments we make with others that can pay huge, lasting, even lifetime benefits. However, this virtue is often not championed in our hyper-competitive world. A "win at all costs" lifestyle means taking others down to get ahead of them for yourself. Manipulating others, pushing past others, going around others, and tearing down others are all considered necessary at times by those trying to get ahead. The wise, inspired writer of our proverb today disagrees with that type of behavior:

Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you.

Cruelty can win only for a while; then, the problems cruel folks have caused others will ultimately become the ruin they bring on themselves. Jesus gave a similar warning:

Those who use the sword will die by the sword. [1]

In a culture where sarcastic ridicule is tolerated and even honored with laughter, we must know that God hates cruelty — whether physical or emotional. In Old Testament times, cruelty by people and nations ensured that God brought destruction to them. Paul warned Timothy about the evil of such people and commands him to stay away from them! [2] These people have multiple traits that God detests. [3] Following God's commands and living according to God's plan will keep us from being cruel. [4]

How do we avoid being cruel given our world's anger, hostility, rivalry, and selfishness? We choose to live in step with the Spirit of God, Who is producing the godly fruit of "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" [5] in us. We focus on Jesus and seek to reflect His nature to those around us as the Spirit transforms us to become more like our Lord. [6] We learn to recognize cruelty and identify it for what it is — a destructive, evil, and sinful pattern of behavior that destroy others. We want to build up others and avoid ever being cruel.

[1] Matthew 26:52.
[2] 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
[3] Proverbs 6:16-19.
[4] Psalm 17:4.
[5] Galatians 5:22-23.
[6] 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Today's Prayer

Righteous Father, please create in me a distaste and revulsion for those who are cruel in their actions or speech. Many "heroic" villains in today's stories are such people, and those who are cruel to others in what they say and do are often popular. Keep my heart on guard against any form of cruelty so that I can immediately recognize it, defend those on whom it is unleashed, and fully reject it. May I never condone it or award it with laughter or any kind of support. I want any cruel ridicule of others to be repulsive to my spirit, just as I desire to be a person who displays the Holy Spirit's fruit and godly integrity in my life. In Jesus' name, I ask this. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Galatians 5:13-23
  • Matthew 5:3-10


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Illustration of Proverbs 11:17 NLT — Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.