“It costs more to revenge injuries than to bear them,” wrote Thomas Wilson.
King David is one of the greatest examples of bearing injuries while refusing to take revenge, says Joshua, 11: “When David saw his chance to kill Saul, he didn’t. His friends tried to make David kill Saul with his spear.”
Put yourself in David’s shoes. A jealous madman is hunting you like an animal. You’re living in caves, dodging spies and wondering if you’ll live to see another day. Then, you find yourself with an opportunity to take him out.
Although David knew the prophet Samuel had anointed him to be king of Israel, he refused to take the kingdom by his own hand. He waited for God to depose King Saul. David said he would not touch the Lord’s anointed.
It’s so easy to justify taking matters into our hands when we’ve been wronged. We erroneously believe we have a right to strike back.
Do we look to God when someone wrongs us? Is God big enough to handle our enemies? Is he big enough that we can pray for our enemies? Can we treat them with kindness? Only God can expand our hearts. It’s no accident that God called David a man after his own heart.
“If we do not try to get even with others, God might reward us by building our faith,” says Rebecca, 6.
Let God be God and watch him work. The saddest part of revenge is that it puts us on the same level as those who have wronged us. God wants to expand our souls through adversity. He greatly desires to bring his people into the true nobility that is their destiny. After all, God says his people are royal priests (I Peter 2:9).
“We are not to decide someone’s punishment. God is the judge,” says Meredith, 10.
God knows how to hit evildoers where it hurts. It might not be as immediate as we would like, but their day will come if they persist in evil. If their evil is flagrant enough, the law will step in to protect society from them. The focus of this column, however, is our response to personal wrongs we suffer.
“If you do not do evil back to someone, God will reward us in strength,” says Julie, 11.
Muscle is built through resistance. Spiritual muscle is built through adversity. Look for opportunities to give grace when people expect revenge.
“God might reward you with wisdom or any good things like peace, love, goodness, faithfulness and joy,” says Brent, 8.
Bitterness, hatred and revenge are like corrosive acids that destroy the containers that hold them. Jesus is the vine, and Christians are the branches. Stay connected to the vine, and watch the fruit of forgiveness and peace grow. Connect your life to anything else, and you’ll find it withering away. Power, influence, money, career and even family can’t replace the source of life.
The connected life is free from vengeance. Alexa, 8, knows the power of living from life: “I would want the reward of God’s love. I don’t want any toy, just Jesus’ love.”
Think about this: Surprise and amaze your enemies by giving them grace instead of revenge.
Memorize this truth: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Ask this question: Have you forgiven your enemies, or do you rehearse in your mind their downfall?
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Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
COPYRIGHT 2006 CAREY KINSOLVING