Once upon a time I was mad and I wanted to exact revenge. I thought up all the ways I could do it, too. I’m talking Carrie Underwood-style “Before He Cheats” kind of revenge.
If you’re not familiar with the song, a few lyrics:
I dug my keys into the side of his pretty little suped-up four wheel drive / Carved my name into his leather seats / I took a Louisville Slugger to both headlights / Slashed a hole in all four tires
You know what they say, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” and I was feeling scorned.
But when I felt my imagination running just a little too wild in this direction I’d reign myself in with part-Scripture and part-adage
“Vengeance is mine says the Lord”
I “comforted” myself that God would get ‘em, that God would exact my revenge.
And being God and all He’d fix ‘em real good.
Not exactly a Christ-like attitude, is it?
So I’d just stop thinking about it all together until the mad feelings came up again and then the cycle would repeat itself.
Until one day I had a break through.
“Vengeance is mine says the Lord” means God owns it, not just dishing out but determining who gets avenged.
I had already determined that this person needed to pay for how they hurt me and I would stop myself from exacting that hurt myself by saying “God will get ‘em” when really it’s not even up to me to judge and condemn that someone needs to pay.
And even more than that, I beg for mercy when it comes to paying for the hurts I cause but I beg for just punishment when it’s me that’s being hurt, when the tables are turned.
Also not Christ-like.
We’re to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly.
Not condemn or desire (or exact) revenge.
Paul wrote to the church at Rome (12:19) “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
He is quoting here Deuteronomy (32:35) “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.”
Who is he talking about here? Who’s foot will slip, and who’s day of disaster is near?
Well, if you read the whole chapter in Deuteronomy you’ll see that he’s talking about the neighboring nations to Israel, their “enemies” who turned their back on God and worshipped idols.
Who is he not talking about?
People who hurt us.
God’s not a mob boss ordering hits.
He’s patient and merciful, to me, to those hurt us, to us all.
And I’m so glad.
I’ve gotten over my hurt (well, mostly), and I no longer wish for revenge.
I had lots of un-Christ-like feelings and reactions, and that wasn’t right.
So you know what is Christ-like?
In his own words:
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”