Alternatives To Revenge
May 17, 2011
Read: Deuteronomy 19:16-21 Matthew 5:38-45
You shall not take vengeance . . . , but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. —Leviticus 19:18
One Sunday while preaching, a pastor was accosted and punched by a man. He continued preaching, and the man was arrested. The pastor prayed for him and even visited him in jail a few days later. What an example of the way to respond to insult and injury!
While there is a place for self-defense, personal revenge was forbidden in the Old Testament: “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18; see also Deut. 32:35). It was also forbidden by Jesus and the apostles (Matt. 5:38-45; Rom. 12:17; 1 Peter 3:9).
The Old Testament law exacted like for like (Ex. 21:23-25; Deut. 19:21), which ensured that judicial punishment was not unjust or malicious. But there was a larger principle looming when it came to personal revenge: Justice must be done, but it must be left in the hands of God or the authorities ordained by God.
Instead of returning injury and insult, may we live by Christ-honoring and Spirit-empowered alternatives: Live at peace with everyone (Rom. 12:18), submit to a spiritual mediator (1 Cor. 6:1-6), and leave it in the hands of authorities and, most of all, in God’s hands.
Lord, when I’m troubled by the insult of another,
help me to let go of my desire for revenge. May I seek
justice but also realize that it will happen in Your
time. I want to learn to overcome evil with good. Amen.
Leave final justice in the hands of a just God.