As is human nature, our carnal mindset tends to kick into overdrive when we we’ve been hurt, angered, disgusted, or any other very human emotional response that’s powerful enough to completely override our impulse control. That’s usually about the time all rational thought goes out the window and is replaced by something that to us, a society of intelligent creatures with the ability to reason has been ingrained into our flawed, sinful characters since Cain first spilled his brother’s blood on that ancient patch of soil…
Revenge. An eye for an eye. You’ve wronged me in some way, committed some heinous act that I’ve decided deserves retribution, so now I must repay what you’ve done… with interest. You see it everywhere in the media, can barely turn a channel on the T.V, hear or song on the radio, or munch a bucket of popcorn in a crowded theater without touching on the highly publicized, worldly ideal that evil should be returned for evil…tenfold.
Now, If you’ve learned anything about God in your lifetime, whether you choose to be a believer or not, you’ve likely heard some of the more popular biblical principles that he’s imparted to us for the sake of leading us down the correct path in this crazy little thing called ‘life’; the path of righteousness and salvation. The bible, or ‘basic instructions before leaving earth’ imparts these bits of Godly wisdom to us not to be cruel, or keep us from enjoying the life that we have been given, but because God, our Heavenly Father, has our best interest at heart. He created us, and in His image no less, so why would He wish for us to indulge in things that will cause us harm? I’ve never seen a parent watch their toddler lean over a hot stove and say, “Go ahead. Touch it, because I can see that you really want to.” Those parents would want to remove their child from the danger, and in much the same way, God put rules into place to keep us safe.
One of those rules and it’s a BIG one, folks, is given to us in Romans 12:19, which says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
Now there’s a hard concept to for our ‘act now, think later’ fleshly selves to grasp.
This past week I was unfortunate enough (or dare I call it fortune because the situation didn’t involve me) to be on the outside looking into a turn of events that made me think long and hard about this very verse, in a way that I never had before.
I had never given this command much thought up until this point. Now don’t get me wrong, I followed it, but I followed it blindly. I had always just shrugged it off and thought nothing more of it other than that it was just God’s way of telling us to put our complete trust in Him. A test of faith. He’s got this, count on him to take care of it, and go about your business. While having faith and giving God control over difficult situations of course plays a huge part in this command, I realized that there’s a deeper reason for it, other than just pure faith. What’s that reason? ONLY GOD KNOWS WHATS TRULY IN A MAN’S HEART.
Let me explain. This situation I’m referring to, which I’ll simplify for the sake of those involved and convey to you to the best of my knowledge for the sake of understanding the point I’m trying to make, is something along these lines:
A man once committed a crime. He claims to have been set up by someone with a vendetta against him, angered the wrong people, and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whether there’s truth to the accusations against him or he truly was falsely accused and is an innocent man, though, is neither here nor there. He’s served his sentence, paid for this crime, and is going about his daily life. Working his job, supporting his family, and basically, minding his own business. There have been no further accusations against him since this one past offense.
Now someone else, and a Christian, no less, not even having an issue directly with him, but with his spouse, has decided to launch a crusade to destroy this man, going so far as to call his place of business to try and have him fired for those criminal charges from long ago that the man has already paid his debt to society for.
My point in all this is that it’s not up to us to judge what’s in a man’s heart and take matters into our own hands. God knows what’s in our hearts better than even we do, and only He knows if that man (or woman as the case may be), has truly repented and is trying to never repeat the same act of sin. It’s not our place to launch some hate-fueled vigilante justice crusade. You can try to convince yourself that your intentions are nothing but admirable, and say that you have the best interest of others at heart as you label your vengeance as an act of societal compassion, but God sees into the hearts of men, and He knows what’s in yours as well. Just because it looks like a cow and moos like a cow, He can smell when it’s a load of bull. You likely have no idea what’s really happening in the heart of the person that you’ve become hell-bent on destroying. Once you do exact your revenge on that person, the consequences and repercussions are likely to cause a wave of destruction, not just for them, but for you as well, and others caught in the path of your tornado of irrational action. God’s trying to stop you from wandering off the path that He’s laid out before you, because there are thorns to both sides. Don’t touch that hot stove of revenge and regret. Vengeance is HIS, and with good reason. It’s not a toy. We’re not meant to play with it.