Summary: Revenge and retaliation can be deadly exercise. It can potentially imprison us for the rest of our lives.
Some years ago a murderer was sentenced to death. He has a younger brother who had served the State so well in the past and to which the State was deeply indebted. This younger brother sought the governor of the State for his pardon. The pardon was granted and his brother was about to deliver the good outcome to him. He visited his brother in prison with the pardon in his pocket. But before he would give him the good news, he asked him this question. “What would you do, if you received a pardon?” His brother replied, “The first thing I would do is to track down the judge who sentenced me, and murder him; and the next thing I would do is to track down the chief witness, and murder him.” Because of what he heard from his brother, he thought it best to leave him in prison to serve one sentence for one murder, than to see him back in the same prison to serve multiple charges for murders. The brother rose, and left the prison with the pardon in his pocket.
Revenge and retaliation can be a deadly exercise. It can potentially imprison us for the rest of our lives. In Romans 12:17-21, Paul wrote:
17) “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18) If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 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. 20) On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on the head.” 21) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:17-21 NIV
Revenge is forbidden in the Old Testament:
Lev. 19:18 - You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
Prov. 24:29 - Do not say, “I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.”
Personal revenge is forbidden in the New Testament:
1. By Jesus Christ - Matthew 5:38-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven;
2. By the Apostles -1 Thes. 5:15 - See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
Life can be cruel. You may have experienced injustice and unfairness at one point or another and you feel a strong urge to get even, to make an attack in return for a similar attack, to fight back, strike back, put up a fight, return like for like, give someone a dose/taste of their own medicine; to take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, to retaliate, and take revenge, ask the Holy Spirit to help and turn the other way. From the Word this morning, would you consider a Christ-like response?
1. Show your enemies undeserved kindness which may elicit a response of shame or repentance.
Jesus Himself experienced unkind treatment from people He came to save. And in each occasion, Jesus, as a Man, could have taken revenge. One example of this was recorded by Luke in 9:52-56. Jesus was rejected in Samaria and His disciples were itching that Jesus take revenge. Look how Jesus responded to them. - And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.