June 27, 2012

Revenge Is Wrong

Romans 12:17-21

When they hurled their insults at [Christ], he did not retaliate … Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
—1 Peter 2:23


Eric admitted to the marriage counselor that he had threatened his wife several times. “Do you have a problem with anger?” asked the counselor. “No,” replied Eric, “I don’t get mad; I get even.”

Revenge comes naturally to us. Movies and video games supply us with endless “blast the bad guys” scenarios. We think there is victory when our enemies are “justly punished” or “taken out.” But all that really does is remove the possibility of peacemaking and invite further retaliation.

God commands his people to do something supernatural: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.” He tells us to let him be the judge; that is God’s place, not ours. And God will see that justice is done.

Sometimes we think that forgiving others—releasing them from our punishment—is a weak, inadequate response. We might view forgiveness as letting people get away with their sin. But when we forgive, we turn our offenders over to God for his perfect justice. That’s actually a very powerful move to make, in God’s strength.

On the cross, our Lord Jesus looked weak to those who mocked him. But he was not overcome with evil. He was powerfully overcoming sin, death, and hell with goodness and grace for us.

Are you willing to imitate him?

Lord, forgive me for trying to get revenge. Teach me to give that up to you. Then please bring peace into my heart. Amen.

About the author — David Zandstra

David Zandstra is a retired pastor living in Marietta, Georgia, having served five churches from New Jersey to California. Along with other ministries, he counsels clients of a pregnancy resource center. He acknowledges his indebtedness to the training and resources of Peacemaker Ministries. David and his wife, Margie, have three children and six grandchildren.

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