Proverbs 11:31

Proverbs 11:31 "Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner."
Proverbs 11:31 Church WNY
In a world of technology and social media, short videos or REELS are frequently used to leave a lasting impression on people.  Customers trying to sell products, churches trying to encourage people, comedians trying to create laughter and travelers trying to share their memories all want people to watch their reels.  Nothing gets our attention like a good video.  Few things make it into our memories faster and better than a good reel.  This short proverb is an ancient reel posted by a wise preacher.  It is was his ancient intention to get his audience to see something; to “BEHOLD.”  He too understood that we remember what we see.  He too understood we most impressed by what we see.

Solomon wanted his followers to see a reel but not for the reasons most people post reels today.  He wasn’t trying to sell a product or promote an organization.  He wasn’t trying to make anyone laugh nor was he was trying to attract more followers.  He wanted people to see something that would make them think; something that would make them fear God.  His reel wouldn’t have catchy music or fairy tale filters.  His reel wouldn’t get a lot of heart emojis and it probably wouldn’t be shared a lot.  He wanted his followers to see a reality “in the earth” that would hopefully make them better.
 
The Preacher of preachers wanted his followers to see the righteous recompensed in the earth.  While the word, “recompensed” simply means compensated or rewarded, the context of the end of the verse applies this word very specifically to the reward, or consequence of doing wrong.  The word, “recompense” appears dozens of times in Scripture with most of the appearances being applied to rewarding evildoers with punishment.  Solomon was not directing his followers to behold the righteous being rewarded for doing good.  He was pointing out cases where the righteous were being punished for doing wrong.  If this were a literal reel on Instagram, Solomon would be posting fifteen second clips of David running from Absalom or of him burying Amnon and Bathsheba’s baby boy.  If this proverb were a literal reel on social media, Solomon would be posting short videos of Aaron and Moses losing their lives before getting to the Promised Land or of believers in the Corinthian church losing their lives for not taking the Lord’s Supper seriously.  Solomon wanted his followers to see THE RIGHTEOUS being “recompensed,” or being punished “in the earth” for their wrongdoing.  He wanted his followers to see that God punishes the best of the best for their sins.  

The Reel of the Righteous being Recompensed was intended to get the attention of those contemplating forsaking the “guide of their youth.”  For the soul who was tempted to forsake righteousness altogether and live an unbridled lifestyle, this proverb was meant to get them to rethink that temptation.  If God punished a man after his own heart for committing adultery and murder, what would God do to a man with a wicked heart with a wicked lifestyle?  If God refused to let a man He gave the Ten Commandments to into the Promised Land, what would he do to the man who mocks the Ten Commandments?  If God cut the lives of two righteous leaders short for hitting a rock instead of speaking to a rock, what would he do to men who don’t even know the meaning of righteousness?

Solomon’s reel would be shared by Peter and by the author of Hebrews.  A thousand years later, Peter the Apostle wrote, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:17-18).  In Hebrews 10:30, its author wrote, “For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will RECOMPENSE, saith the Lord.  And again, the Lord shall judge HIS PEOPLE.”  All throughout its pages, the Bible shares the reel of Solomon.  God will not tolerate sin, whether in the lives of the righteous or in the lives of the wicked.  For the believer, judgment upon unconfessed sin only takes place where Solomon points us to – “in the earth.”  Fortunately for believers, there is no punishment for our sin “off the earth.”  Death liberates us from the flesh and the temporary consequences of its sin.  Heaven is a place of sinless freedom and it is accessed only by faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.  Unfortunately for unbelievers, they will be recompensed “in the earth” and “off the earth.”  Death doesn’t bring an end to the punishment of their sins.  Death actually begins the greatest punishment of their sins in a place called Hell, which is a punishment of “much more” consequence than what the righteous receive.
 
Whoever you are, wherever you are, LOOK around and take note that good people who do bad things do not go unpunished in our world.  Righteous men and women still sin and when they do, there are still consequences.  Pastors who sincerely and genuinely served God for years still lose their jobs when they succumb to adultery.  Sunday School teachers who sincerely and authentically served God for years still go to jail when they give in to the love of money and steal from the IRS.  The man who goes to church three times a week, gives ten percent of his income to God, is faithful to his wife and honest with his employer still experiences hardship at the hand of God if he has a proud heart.  If God recompenses the righteous “in this world,” what will He do to those of us who aren’t nearly as righteous and to those of us who aren’t nearly as committed to holy living?

To the “righteous,” God will temper His wrath upon your sin but He will not look past it “in the earth” because you are intended to be examples for the unrighteous.  If God left your public sin unpunished, then the unbelieving public would get the wrong impression of sin and of a Holy God.  If God left your public sin unpunished, you would become a catalyst for evil in the hearts of the wicked.  If God left your public sin unpunished, you would be a reason for the unrighteous to keep sinning.  God may not deal as harshly with the sins of the righteous as with the sins of the wicked, but He still deals with the sins of the righteous in order to instill a healthy fear of God in the hearts and minds of the wicked.  Be ye holy even as God is holy and avoid becoming Solomon’s Reel.  

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