What About Revenge?
What About Revenge?
One of our natural instincts when someone hurts us deeply is to get revenge. We struggle with this in many different ways with unforgiveness. For example we may reason that: “If I forgive them they will only hurt me again.” Thus we are giving them permission to hurt us again. The other question that we may ask is what about justice. Will it be served if I forgive? From our reasoning and perspective all of these questions make sense. The question we really should be asking is what does God want or what is God’s way? We must remember that God administrates true justice. Everyone including ourselves will get true justice for all of the acts that we have committed. Forgiveness is a necessity. The apostle Paul reminds us in Romans: Romans 12:1919 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
When we try to administer our own revenge we are assuming a role that belongs to God and Him alone. This is very simply our way of keeping control of the situation and wanting to administrate our own justice, or collecting our own debts. Think about what God is saying in Romans 12:19 “vengeance is mine” – vengeance belongs to God. When we let the individual that has hurt us off the hook this does not mean that he’s off God’s hook. If we only would trust God and depend upon God to take care of the situation and place them in the hands of the righteous judge; the only One who is both able and responsible for meting out justice.
There are a number of examples in the Old Testament of individuals trying to take revenge. One of the most interesting one is in Jeremiah 20:1-18. This chapter is about Pashur the high priest who put Jeremiah in stocks and beat him, because Jeremiah had been prophesying that Judah was going to be sent into captivity. When Pashur let Jeremiah out of the stocks Jeremiah prophesied about Judah that included a prophecy about Pashur when he changed his name to “Terror on Every Side”. Jeremiah 20:44 For thus says the Lord: Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends. They shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon. He shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall strike them down with the sword. Then in verses 8-18 Jeremiah turns the whole situation over to God. Trusting and depending upon God to take care of the situation. Jeremiah knew that what had been done to him was unfair but he turned it over to God and released himself from any concerns of revenge that he had for Pashur.
Another example that occurs at the end of Genesis is a story of Joseph one of the most revealing illustrations of this truth about revenge. Joseph had been repeatedly wronged throughout his life, misjudged, treated unfairly and falsely accused while he was a young man then he was sold into slavery by his brothers because of envy and jealousy. Several years later his brothers met up with him in Egypt. Joseph at that meeting had the right, the authority and all the means at his disposal to take revenge upon his brothers. In fact they were fearful when they were standing before him fully expecting him to take revenge upon them. Genesis 50:19–2119 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
God teaches us in His Word, and by example that He will provide justice. We see this in the example of Pashur and Jeremiah, and also in the example of Joseph.
The question we must ask ourselves is: Do we trust God to administrate justice or do we attempt to administer our own version of justice?