Spoil fun, spoil children, spoil of war—is spoil always negative?

by | Feb 19, 2024 | Faith, Family | 4 comments |

Because Keith and I dislike wasting food, because of spoil, we often begin our week on Sunday by grocery shopping together after church. Here’s yesterday’s haul. Keith enjoys shopping because it’s a way for him to exercise his curiosity. Though not an avid shopper myself, I try not to spoil Keith’s fun.

Is “spoil” always negative? Let’s see what scripture has to say.

Spoil fun

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 ESV

My mother used to say, “You have to make your own fun.” Although she was not a religious person, Mother certainly had a joyful, giving heart, which she shared generously. She also knew hard times all too well.

I think it’s important to see our own all-too-human behavior as humorous and to be able to laugh at ourselves. Perhaps you remember my story, “Laughter is worth a lot of pennies,” about playing—and losing—the gas price game. Exercising our funny bones is good medicine to prevent our crushed spirits from drying up our bones. 

So yes, to spoil fun is not generally a positive thing.

Spare the rod and spoil the child

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline themProverbs 13:24 NIV

This verse is the basis for the old saying, “spare the rod and spoil the child.” My father often said the only way you could spoil your children is to treat them inconsistently. Or as my mother said, quoting her mother, “If you promise your child a lollypop, make sure they get that lollypop; if you promise your child punishment for a misdeed, make sure they get that punishment. In this sense, to spoil a child was not a good thing.

My parents didn’t spare either love or the rod of discipline with me and my sisters, and neither did I with my children. I don’t think any of us want our children to spoil their reputations, but rather develop good character, one that’s reflects God’s love and grace in us. 

To the victor goes the spoil

Old Testament records plenty of violence and spoil-taking, but here’s a different take from a New Testament verse: No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. Mark 3:37 KJV

A common interpretation of this verse is that Satan represents the strong man and Jesus the attacker, the one who came to spoil Satan’s house. In a way, this relates to Old Testament scripture “spoil.” Reading the New Testament verse in context, however, one discovers that spoil-taking is about forgiveness of sins and having the victory of eternal life at the end of our lives.

So, in spiritual warfare, “spoil” can be a positive thing, because Jesus came to spoil Satan’s fun.

Linkup with Five Minute Friday: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2024/02/15/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-spoil/


  1. Kath Gardner

    These are some interesting and helpful ways to look at the word ‘spoil’. Thanks for sharing.
    Kath, visiting from FMF #21 this week.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for reading, Kath, and I enjoyed your post, too! -C.D.

  2. dawnfanshawe

    Yes, great! I want to spoil the devil’s plans too! I can because Jesus already has won!

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for your comment and encouragement, Dawn. I’m reading your book now. Thank you for sharing your story.


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