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Revenge

Friday, August 28, 2015

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” (Romans 12:19, esv).

We live in an unjust world. Children dying of diarrhea. People slaughtered in genocides. Refugees fleeing their homes. Ethnic cleansing. Human trafficking. Greedy banks. The list goes on and on.

And then the list gets more personal—from injustices against others, to injustices against us, to an injustice against me. Child abuse. An unfaithful spouse. A betrayal by someone you trust. A very personal wound.

“Take the injustices of life that outrage and crush your spirit, and entrust them to God.”

It’s just wrong.

What’s startling is God’s recommended response to a personal injury. Don’t seek revenge; leave it with God. “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.’”

The world says, “Don’t get mad. Get even.” But God says, “Leave it with Me. I’ll handle this.”

When our desire for revenge wells up within us, it’s tough not to take matters into our own hands. Take heart! God knows how hard this injustice thing is for us, so He prefaces His action plan with this tender word, “Beloved” (one who is dearly loved, close to His heart). “Beloved, never avenge yourselves.” Clear-cut, definitive guidance. Instead, God says, “leave it to the wrath of God.” Whose responsibility is vengeance? God’s. Not ours. When we try to get even with people who have injured us, we are taking what belongs to God (and we always make more of a mess and find our stabs at revenge unsatisfying). In essence, He reminds us, “I see exactly what they’ve done to you. I may let the clock go around a few more times, but I have a perfect memory. Trust Me with the whole thing.” He assures us, “I will repay.”

There’s a day coming, circled in red on the calendar. We don’t know how many pages we’ll have to flip until God shows up and balances the books of justice, but the day is coming. Biblically it’s called “the day of the Lord,” “the great and magnificent day” (Acts 2:20), or “the great and awesome day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31). Sometimes God rights wrongs in this lifetime. Eventually God will right all the wrongs, even the score, and bring awful judgment on every wrongdoer who has not sought forgiveness under the finished work of Christ.

Take the injustices of life that outrage and crush your spirit, and entrust them to God. Vengeance is God’s job. In the end, He will make all things right.

Journal

  • What’s a personal injustice that you’re tempted to avenge on your own?
  • Contrast imperfect human revenge vs. perfect divine justice. Why do our own attempts at revenge always disappoint us?

Pray
Father God, You are the Holy Judge. I confess that I’m torn apart over the wrongs that have been done to me, and I want revenge. Yet for my own sin, I want mercy. What a mixed-up paradox I am. Please help me to let go of my desire for revenge and to entrust vengeance to You. You see. You know the cost of sin and the pain in my heart. Thank You that You are my Defender. I love You, I trust You, and I choose to obey. Vengeance is Yours. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


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