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Posts tagged ‘right to revenge’

Getting Even OR Getting Better

SOURCE:  Joe Stowell

“It is mine to avenge; I will repay . . . . If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:19-20

I’ll never forget an older woman who came to my office and heatedly dumped on me a long list of objections about her husband.

I asked how long she had been married. It had been more than 40 years. I have never in my life, nor would I ever, counsel anyone to break up a home. But as she went on and on about how miserable he was, I finally said, “Why have you lived with him so long if he’s so bad? Did you ever think about just checking out? I’m not advising it, but I’d like to know what you think.” She said, “Oh, no! I’d never walk out of this marriage.”

I thought that was an honorable attitude until she continued.

It was evident that she hated him so much that walking out of the marriage would have meant she couldn’t torment him anymore. For her, that was a reason for staying. Why would she want to give up the opportunity to shred her enemy at every turn?

Got any people like that in your life?

People you’d like to take every opportunity to even the score with?

Take my advice: Forget it! You’ll only lose sleep and waste precious energy if you are living to get even with someone. As someone well said, “Bitterness is the poison you prepare for someone else and end up drinking yourself!” So thankfully, God has a better way. He’ll deal with your enemy if you get out of the way and pour out love instead of venom.

Joseph understood this dynamic when he, as a ruler in Egypt, could have made toast out of his hateful brothers. But instead he said to them, “Am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 50:19). Joseph was free of the “do evil for evil” syndrome and admitted he had no business getting back at his brothers because God is the one who carries out justice. With Joseph, you can experience emotional liberation from your enemies when you pray, “God, they are in your hands! I give them to you to deal justly with them!” When that is our prayer, we are set free to follow the liberating way of Romans 12:19-21 where Paul writes:

“Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

So don’t get in the way. God has not equipped us to personally carry out justice and vengeance on our enemies. That’s why things always get messed up when we try. He is the only one who has that right and the power and wisdom to do it well.

A Prayer for Letting Go of the Desire to Get Even

SOURCE:  Scotty Smith/The Gospel Coalition

  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord (Rom. 12:19). Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice (Prov. 24:17). Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing (1 Pet. 3:9)

Dear heavenly Father, I love the taste of deep dish, double-crusted apple cobbler, topped with sharp cheddar cheese and homemade vanilla ice cream. But, with less nutritional value, I also savor stories of creative revenge, seasoned with spiteful retaliation, and topped off with the gravy of humiliating retribution—when the bad guys “get it”1000 times worse than they gave it. Alas, the very attitude confronted by these Scriptures.

You commend, even command, that we work for justice, and long for the Day of ultimate righteousness. But we must heed your many warnings to avoid a vengeful spirit, as surely as we’d run from coiled rattlesnakes, toxic fumes, threatened momma bears, or E. coli poisoned waters.

No matter what the provocation—from a personal “dissing,” to evil parading its hatred of beauty—you tell us that we have no right to revenge, no right to gloat when an enemy falls, no right to get even with anybody. The gospel calls us to a different way of stewarding our hurts and anger.

Father, I’m so glad you didn’t “get even” with me, for all the ways I’ve rebelled (and do rebel) against you; for all the ways I’ve chosen my gain over your glory; for all the ways I’ve misrepresented you to the world, even to my own heart.

You didn’t get even; you got generous—lavishing mercy and grace upon this ill-deserving man. May the gospel keep me humble and patient, prayerful and expectant of the Day of consummate justice. I don’t want to waste one more self-absorbed moment rehearsing things that hurt me and relishing personal revenge.  So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

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