We move next to the fact that Christians need to take an unspiteful position regarding the world. Does that confuse you? Let me explain what I mean. Verse 19 says. “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
Revenge is sweet, isn’t it? Who didn’t cheer when Rocky beat the snot out of “Clubber” Lang (played by Mr. T)? What about when Rambo wiped out the Vietnamese soldiers who were torturing the American prisoners? Shoot, I was watching an episode of a new series call, “Touch,” starring Kiefer Sutherland. Sutherland used to play Jack Bauer on the series, “24,” and Jack would never let anyone punch him and win! When I was watching “Touch,” some guy ridiculed his son: “That kid should be locked up in a cage.” Martin Bohm (played by Sutherland), says, “Hey!” and grabs the guy’s shoulder . . . who turns around and slugs Bohm in the stomach. I was waiting for Jack Bauer to jump up and knock that guy out!
Yes, that would be a purely “fleshly” response, but it sure would have been so sweet—unfortunately, it is also totally outside the will of our Father! Not only because the Lord reserves vengeance for himself, but because of what it does to us when we become vengeful. It will eat you up!
The motto, “Don’t get mad, get even,” may sound cute, but it messes you up at a deep emotional level. People who look for revenge hold on tightly to their bitter feelings. If you are hanging onto those bitter feelings, it will grow into a cancer of hatred that will eventually consume you. I used to date a girl who was like that. For the whole time we were dating she remembered the hurts and betrayal other guys had committed against her. While we were dating, she was becoming more and more cynical and bitter. I can imagine the things she said about me after we broke up. A mutual friend did tell me the judgmental comments she had made when she heard I had come to the Lord. Were her feelings justified? I can’t say. But for anyone to hang onto those memories and feelings, will suffer the consequences of that bitterness.
I know women who have suffered physical and sexual abuse. Are they justified for their feelings of anger and hatred? Yes. I wish nobody would have to face such an ordeal. If it happened to my daughter, would I rise up in rage and seek the person who did such a thing? I am afraid to admit, I would. However, I also know that even in a situation such as that, both of us would have to remember this passage . . . and out of obedience, forgive that person.
That girl I was dating was a perfect example of how people can be eaten up with their feelings and hurts; all of their anger and spitefulness, even hatred itself. I would go so far as to say that hatred is precisely the place at which those who journey down this path of revenge will arrive.
As disciples of Jesus the Christ, we must place our cause into the hands of the Lord. He is the only one who can judge the motives as well as the action. He has taken note of those things that have been done to us. All we have to remember is that no one gets away with anything, ever.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome