Well that title probably sparked some interest…because at some point or another we’ve all experienced the overwhelming feeling of needing to get revenge. Someone has hurt us, hurt someone we love or is just stupid and needs to be taught a lesson! The situations are real and the feelings are too.
The definition of revenge is, “the action of inflecting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands. Being hurt deeply just seems to come with the accompanying feelings of hurting back, lashing out, and needing to see justice. Because after all, how can someone hurt me like that and just get away with it?!?!
We serve a God of justice so it is natural that when an injustice is done to us we would need to make that thing right. Yes, it needs to be made right, but by whom? Is it my right to fix that my way? Is it my right to bring justice or to take “an eye for an eye” approach?
Exodus 21:23-25 NKJV states, “But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. That does sound pretty straightforward now doesn’t it? But…Romans 12:19 NLT says, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge; I will pay them back," says the Lord.
In the Old Testament it was about the Law but Jesus calls us to live by grace. Most all of the actions of Jesus in the Gospels show us how we are to respond to hurtful situations. I challenge you to take some time to read the Gospels through once and mark all the circumstances where He was wronged or lied about and how He handled it. Even on the Cross He looked down at the people who were crucifying Him and stated, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:24. He was an innocent man being crucified. You can’t get much more wronged than that.
Being hurt by someone is inevitable retaliation is optional. When I am fully convinced through my knowledge of scripture that I am loved, valued and accepted by God, I then don’t need anyone to love, value or accept me for me to be ok. When people hurt us in any way and we feel the need to get back at them or prove them wrong, all we are doing is trying to get them to affirm our worth and value.
My Creator determines that for me. Another person’s opinion is just that, their opinion. We all know there is no shortage of opinions to go around. If my husband is unfaithful to me, yes that hurts…bad! But it doesn’t change who I know that I am. It only means that he is stupid. How in the world do you even get revenge for something like that?!?! If I decide to get back at him and cheat too, have I really gotten revenge? No I’ve sinned against God. Now who’s the stupid one?
Marcus Aurelius said, “ The best revenge is to be UNLIKE him who performed the injury. That’ll preach right there! Our responses should be Christ like. I Peter 2:23 Paul stated of Jesus, “He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.
The main problem with us seeking our own revenge is that we don’t know both sides of the equation. We only see or feel what people did TO us but God sees their hearts and knows WHY they did it. Knowing the “why” behind an action can make all the difference in the world.
In the fictional book The Shack, Mac is devastated and can’t get past the abduction and murder of his young daughter. So God takes him to a cave and shows him the background of the madman who did this act. He shows him how that mans father locked him up, beat him and abused him unjustly; abuse that shaped that mans actions. He saw how broken he had become that led him to become the abuser that he was.
Understanding the “why” behind the “what” helped Mac to forgive this man who had taken his daughter from him. It created compassion in him. His ability to forgive his daughters murderer set Mac free. Did it change the murderer? No. But as Shannon L. Alder states, “ Anger, resentment and jealously doesn’t change the heart of others it only changes yours.
Revenge is letting God change or deal with the other person. You can only change you. It is our responsibility to work on us. We can’t change or fix another person. That is the job of God and God alone. God will work on the offender in His timing and in His way. If they do not respond to His dealings then the principle of sowing and reaping comes into play for their actions. Either way the situation is resolved.
If you are dealing with hurt you can’t fix, give it to Jesus. Let Him deal with it the right way. Jesus took all of our wounds and carried all of our pain on the Cross. Then you are free from not only the initial pain but also the burden of carrying a wound you were not built to carry.