Theology Thursday: What Is Recompense?

Boy reading the Bible

This theological term simply means to give back in return. There is a settling of payments that Jesus taught us revealing His character. In Luke 14:12-14, Jesus is teaching that we should give to those who cannot give in return. He states, “And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14, NIV). Our willingness to be a blessing to others, with no reciprocal expectation, reflects Christ in us. After all, we have been given salvation which we could never earn or deserve.

To Not Give What Is Deserved

This aspect of recompense can be a little harder on our fleshly nature. We have all been offended or hurt by someone. The world’s response is to pay it back. However, looking deeper at Scripture when it says in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (NIV). Romans 12:21 also challenges us with, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” We are not to “give back in return” when we have been harmed by someone.

God as the Judge

As one who is the originator of recompense, God is the final judge and the one who will give back in return. As a promise given to Israel of the year of the Lord’s favor we see this lengthy promise of God’s nature:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, a to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:1-3).

For those who choose not to follow Christ or bow their knee to the Almighty God, we see the work of recompense very clearly. In Revelation 21:8 it states, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars−they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

Again, pretty clear on how God will judge and give recompense. So, the choice is ours. Are we life-giving when we provide recompense or are we vengeful? Have we chosen Christ so we will be under the blessing of God and not under his judgment?

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.