by Brandy Webb
“I’ll pay that person back the next time I get a chance.” Have you ever heard someone say something close to that phrase? Have you ever said it? Revenge for a wrong done to you at the time may seem sweet, but don’t be fooled; it is very bitter going down.
It is hard not to desire retaliation when someone has wronged you. It is hard to “let it go” and move on or “forgive and forget.” Even if the clichés are sometimes annoying, it is better for you, in the long run, to not react and lower yourself to the level of the one that hurt you.
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 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.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:17-21).
I took psychology classes in College because I like the subject, and when we would study the ramifications of seeking revenge, it never had a positive ending. Those who succeeded in their retaliation were never happier in the end of it. Revenge is a serpent seed planted deep in one’s soul that, if fed, will grow into a full serpent, spewing its venom, thus poisoning the person from the inside out.
We can see it all over the news. People retaliating because of a wrong done to them. All they are doing is lowering themselves to the level of the injustice and hurting innocent people caught in the middle. Violence that begets more violence will not eventually end in peace. It will ultimately end in full destruction of all parties involved. What would Jesus say? Well, let’s find out. Judas comes with men to betray Jesus, and one of Jesus’ apostles cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus then turns to him and states, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt 26:47-52).
I know it is hard to “turn the other cheek” when someone has wronged you, but deep down, I know that it feels even worse to wish evil to come upon that person. It is not how Jesus lived when He walked the earth, and He had every right to strike down His attackers. He was perfect. He lived by what He taught. Let us reread a small snippet in Matthew 5:38-48:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
We have Jesus as our example. When He was “reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten” because He trusted completely in God, who is the One that can righteously seek vengeance (1 Pet 2:23). Our anger doesn’t produce God’s righteousness (James 1:20). This is why we are to live like Christ because we have a blessing. We are not to “repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling.” No, we are to bless others (1 Pet 3:9). Those of us that desire to “love life and see good days,” must keep our tongue from speaking evil and deceitful things, turn away from evil and do good, and seek and pursue peace (1 Pet 3:10-11). For, our Lord’s eyes “are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Pet 3:12).
So, the next time the serpent’s seed of revenge tries to implant itself in your soul, rebuke it in Jesus’ name and pray for the one who is persecuting you. It will be healing to your soul, a balm to your heart, and a light to the world.