That I can remember, no one has ever asked me if I’ve wanted to exact revenge against my father for everything he did to me when I was a child. But if anyone were to ask me, my answer would be an unqualified, categorical no.
I don’t remember ever wanting revenge against him or any of the people who hurt me. It’s certainly not because I’m holy or anything like that. I’m definitely no saint. I mess up on an extremely regular basis, and 1 John 1:9 is a well-worn and much-loved verse for me,
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9, NKJV.
Another favorite, and something I cry out to God all the time, is,
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ~ Romans 7:24, NKJV.
Thankfully Romans 7:24 is followed immediately by 7:25,
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. ~ Romans 7:25, NLT.
And again straightaway after that comes Romans 8:1,
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 8:1, NLT.
I apologize for that little rabbit trail, but I’m trying to make a point. I am a sinner because I was born in sin, and because I was born into a world that belongs to Satan. Thank God, Jesus rescued me out of that world by dying on the cross for me, so that now I’m forgiven, and I no longer belong to the devil, I belong to God. But I still commit sins, even though I desperately don’t want to. That was my whole point in quoting the above verses.
Avenging a wrong committed against someone is something that really should be left in God’s hands. God is the only one who knows what really happened, the only one who knows the true motivations of the people involved, and the only one capable of dispensing perfect justice to all the parties connected to the situation.
Seems to me, if someone gets revenge, they’re trying to get justice for a situation on their own, taking control of it out of God’s hands. And while God does know all the facts, the person taking justice into their own hands will only know about the situation from his own perspective, which will always be skewed, because there’s no way any human being can know everything about what happened. Only God can know that. That’s why God 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. ~ [quoted from Deuteronomy 32:35, NLT]; Romans 12:19, NLT.
I think people take vengeance into their own hands because they get impatient. They don’t want to wait for God to do it (if they believe He exists), or the legal system (if they trust it). Nowadays people don’t trust the legal system, or if they do, it moves too slowly for them, so they decide they have to do it for themselves.
If you think the legal system is slow, God is slower. You have to wait for the person you want justice for to die before you’ll get it. That’s why I say people get impatient. They don’t want to wait for God’s justice. Now, sometimes God will act through the legal system, but oftentimes He chooses to wait until the Final Judgment after the person dies.
I don’t know why that is, and it’s probably not for us, or specifically me, to know, at least not this side of Heaven ~ God’s sovereignty, and His higher ways (Isaiah 55:9-10), and all that ~ though sometimes I really wish God would clue me in.
But He doesn’t, and I have to trust ~ I choose to trust ~ that God is better at being God than I am, something I already knew, by the way, as I wrote about in a previous post (I Would Make a Terrible God). Because, as I said in that post, being God is God’s job, not mine.
So I’ll let God do the avenging for me. I’ve done the best I can to forgive those who need to be forgiven, and certainly there are many on whom I could get revenge, but I firmly believe that’s God’s job, as borne out by Scripture. I’ll let God be God and do my avenging for me. It makes my life much easier. I already have enough to think about without adding that!
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. ~ Matthew 6:34, KJV.
I think people take vengeance into their own hands because they get impatient.
Oh yep. Counselling the kids to wait & count to ten before they hammer their brother back is just the start of it…
I’ve been giggling over your comment ever since I got it this morning. Counting to ten is probably WAY too long for children to wait. One, or even half, is more like it.
And then there was my sister, who couldn’t keep a secret to save her soul. She’d hit me, and because I didn’t want us to get in trouble, I’d keep quiet about it, and just hit her back. But that would immediately make her start yelling loudly that I hit her, and I was the one who got in trouble, even though she was the one who started it.
If I’d just exercised a little patience and not hit her back in the first place, I could have come up with some other way of getting revenge for hitting me.
But that’s the whole point of this post! Revenge is GOD’S job!!
Thank you for this topic and sharing it with such candor. As someone who has experienced hurt in childhood, I resonate with what you are saying. Thank you for letting people know that God’s ways are better than man’s, even when it seems we should take matters into our own hands. Love this!
I’m glad I was able to write something that made a difference, Racheal! Over the years, as God has healed me more and more, I’ve found that His ways are always better than anything I could do on my own, and that’s pretty much the purpose of this blog. I’m glad you liked this post! Thanks for reading!