The Cruel Do Harm to Themselves

“Cherry Cookies in preparation for a church bake sale”


It always fascinates me to see a person go out of their way to say and do mean things to other people.  I think I understand the motivation to be cruel.  I understand the desire to get even.  I understand the desire to put a hurting on another person.  There is something within our human nature that seems to enjoy making another person suffer.  I am not saying that everyone goes around all day long looking to hurt another person.  By the same token, in spite of our best efforts to live good and decent lives, when we are pushed to the wall sometimes a person will resort to saying and doing cruel things.

In the 11th chapter of the Book of Proverbs the wisdom writer expounds upon how those who engage in cruel deeds actually hurt themselves.  I do not claim to be perfect, but I do strive to think like Jesus, act like Jesus and love like Jesus.  It is relatively easy to lash out in violence when someone has hurt or disappointed you.  What the wisdom writer says is that if you are kind to others, rewards will follow.  If you go out of your way to be mean to others, you do yourself harm.

Proverbs 11: 17        Those who are kind reward themselves,

but the cruel do themselves harm.

18  The wicked earn no real gain,

but those who sow righteousness get a true reward.

19  Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live,

but whoever pursues evil will die.

20  Crooked minds are an abomination to the Lord,

but those of blameless ways are his delight. [1]


Questions for Reflection:

  1. What are your thoughts about how God responds to the cruelty that human beings invoke upon other persons?
  2. How do the “Cruel do themselves harm”?



Lord, take away any temptation in my heart to be cruel.  Guard my tongue that I might think about what I say before the words from my mouth like darts of hate and daggers of death.  Lord, harbor my thoughts that I might lift up peace, harmony and good will.  Take away my desire to say mean things, do mean things and think mean things.  Show me how to make the most of every day, the most of every moment, the most of every minute.  Lord, take away my temptation to be cruel.  Take away any desire to say things and do things that are designed to hurt the feelings of others.  Bless me today to strive to be loving, kind and gracious.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray.  Amen.


Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Nicholas Hood III

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[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Pr 11:17–20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.