Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21) NKJV
Look in any direction, even the mirror, and you will see a person who has been hurt by another person. Unfortunately, being hurt is a part of life.
The question is, what is the appropriate way to respond to hurt and, more specifically, to the one who hurt you?
The natural inclination is to hurt the one who hurt you. It has been said, “Hurt people hurt people.”
While retaliation might make you feel good in the moment, retaliating will only lead to regret. And the fact of the matter is God reserves for Himself the right to avenge.
The key verse regarding this truth is found in the Old Testament and quoted twice in the New Testament. God said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them” (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30).
When you take matters into your own hands to avenge yourself, you are usurping God’s authority. Therefore, it is wise to allow God to do what He alone has the right to do. And trust me, He can take care of avenging wrongs far better than you ever could.
Unlike us, God takes vengeance from pure motives. His vengeance is for the purpose of punishing those who have offended and rejected Him.
In War: Four Christian Views, edited by Robert Clouse, the author wrote,
“We can, however, pray for God to avenge Himself in perfection and holiness against His enemies and to avenge those who are oppressed by evil. In Psalm 94:1, the psalmist prays for God to avenge the righteous, not out of a sense of uncontrolled vindictiveness, but out of just retribution from the eternal Judge whose judgments are perfect. Even when the innocent suffer and the wicked appear to prosper, it is for God alone to punish.”
Being human, you will be tempted to do the punishing yourself. But because you are a sinful creature, it is impossible for you to take revenge with pure motives.
As a Christian, just follow the Lord Jesus’ command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44), leaving the vengeance to God.
While the thought of banishing the one who offended you to Siberia, prison or some other unpleasant destination might excite you, the best place for you to put him or her is on your prayer list.
Read Proverbs 24:29; Matthew 5:7, 38-39; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9.
Jerry Fulton's goal in life is to share the love of Jesus, so others might become followers of Christ.