Revenge is Dangerous
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,so that you may prove yourselves to be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:43-45 NASB
"Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body’s parts do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another. However, since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them properly: if prophecy, in proportion to one’s faith; if service, in the act of serving; or the one who teaches, in the act of teaching; or the one who exhorts, in the work of exhortation; the one who gives, with generosity; the one who is in leadership, with diligence; the one who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Love must be free of hypocrisy. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor, not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." - Romans 12 NASB
Its something we all battle in life.
Something that we convince ourselves will bring satisfaction to something we see as a wrong or as something nobody else is correcting that we understand as being wrong.
A chief problem with any perspective on revenge is that our single minded view of life cannot see the whole picture that God sees.
He sees your point of view.
He also sees the points of view of everyone who is involved.
He sees something deeper than you do.
He knows whether or not that person will end up in Heaven or Hell. That consideration is where all revenge is weighed against.
Our satisfaction isn't paramount in the Christian life. Regardless of the way people want to look at it. If God's only aim was to keep us happy 24/7 then we would be in Heaven right now. If it were to happen on Earth we would have 8 billion spoiled brat people on the Earth. Sin would bring out the worst no matter what.
In my life there's been some heavy lessons concerning revenge. None of which are pretty, but all are memorable.
Lessons learned over and over.
We have read, several times, in Romans 12 of that last part concerning revenge. It was today's verse of the day that took me to Jesus talking about it Himself.
"Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
That first sentence is a grabber. Being wise in your own estimation. Oh we are all walking around with PHD's in that one.
In our state of mind we think we know what to do and what is best.
Repaying evil for evil. Evil does some nasty things. We aren't to arbitrarily use the things evil people do back at them. This is not being a pacifist. Weapons are not what's evil. It's what people use them for. Jesus specifically taught that what comes out of the heart defiles a person.
You can have a pile of weapons as high as Texas is wide and not touch them. They won't do a thing on their own unless a person uses a thought to direct its actions.
What we aren't to do is blindly return unthinking actions back towards others that harm us. That's what evil is and does.
Leaving room for the wrath of God.
After a few personal lessons, God has repeatedly showed me the effects of leaving room for Him to do something.
I have personally seen powerful people's lives turned inside out simply because I withheld my own idea of revenge. Trust me, there was no mistaking that what had happened next was from God Himself.
We also don't consider the cost in revenge.
In this life revenge can mess up God's plans to save someone. We want our sanctification yet aren't considering in the heat of the moment that Jesus died for that person we are angry with as well as dying for you or I.
But what they did! They deserve...
That word...deserve. Regardless of what we see in that moment...remember...we deserved to go to Hell for a single sin. Regardless of our emotional state the word deserve shouldn't be in our thinking in that way. We deserved God's wrath, in Christ we received God’s grace and mercy through Jesus Christ our Redeemer and our Lord.
Hate, revenge, anger, all blind people to what's really going on.
Satan loves to use any or all of these and more in order to distract and disrupt the lives of God's family.
We cannot know God's plan for the one who wronged us. What if, my Dear Reader, Jesus intended for you to be a witness to that person and show them the way to the same grace - Unmerited Favor, that you received? What if that person is one who will indeed someday walk the streets of gold in Heaven with you?
The lives of humans are in God's hands. He knows who are going to be saved and who will not accept salvation in Christ Jesus. He's God, of course He knows. It's His plan to find them one at a time through His Son's followers. The Father’s business is to seek and save the lost.
You might remember back to something that I was writing about Saul, before he became Paul. Read closely about his training and upbringing in being a Pharisee. He was there with all the others throughout Jesus's Earthly ministry.
Matthew 23:34-39 NASB "Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will flog in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you will fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation."
How do you think Saul felt, after being reminded of these words from Jesus?
We cannot understand the full consequences of our wanting our version of justice. Ours isn't God's.
Scripture says His ways are higher than ours, His thoughts than our thoughts.
As long as we don't practice what we are taught as a follower of Christ Jesus, the world only sees a person of this world. They don't see Jesus. They don't see forgiveness. They don't see anything to set us apart from this world.
Now, I am not against self defense and I do not believe the Bible teaches against that either. Jesus even taught parables about how had the man of the house had known when his home would be broken into he wouldn't have allowed it. That's defense of the home.
We are to stand in the way of those who would harm those in our care.
A key difference between the two is that for the most part a rational mind is behind defending versus a very irrational mind behind revenge.
In Christ, realize that any who would seek to harm you, they must go through Christ to get to you. Any time Satan's plan is for our harm, He must get permission. Read the book of Job. God may permit it, but if so, it's for His glory, not ours.
If a believer dies because of an evil person it's not because God failed to protect.
You and I must realize that we will indeed likely exit this world in some way shape or form. Our TIME of departure and place are determined by God.
Nobody dies before their time.
Nobody leaves this world prematurely. Nobody.
We leave at that time, in that moment, that is the pre-planned manor in which God intended. Evil people are not the dictators of the time of when or how we leave this Earth.
Whereas it is possible be at peace with all people. It's not always going to be possible. We are sinful people living among sinful people. We are going to rub someone the wrong way. Be it a look, a remark or a reaction.
We are not to play God in determining the justice to be had in someone's life. We can indeed be on a jury with others, but the point in that is no single mind determines the fate of the accused.
Lastly "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,so that you may prove yourselves to be sons of your Father who is in heaven."
Stephen, while being stoned, literally spoke these words in his prayer as he was dying. He did not ask for God to avenge him.
We are always that possible, critical, piece of whatever God-sized puzzle in someone else's life that could be that piece that brings them closer to salvation.
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