Today’s blog, written by Pastor David Kwon of Journey Community Church in Raleigh, was originally posted on November 2, 2013.
Devotional Thought for Today
What is Sweeter than Revenge?
The Lord is a God who avenges. O God who avenges, shine forth. 2 Rise up, Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve. 3 How long, Lord, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant?
Robert F. Kennedy made popular the phrase, “Don’t get mad. Get even.” When it comes to dealing with those who have wronged us, this is the motto our culture teaches us to live by. It is human nature to feel it’s our job to hold others personally responsible for their transgressions against us. This is precisely why lawsuits have been so rampant in our legal system.
For fun, I googled Kennedy’s quote mentioned above and came across a book with the same title. This Big Book for Revenge claims to be “your reference for retribution.” The back cover reads: “Had enough? Good –It’s time for payback! From creative real estate advertising that will give annoying neighbors a taste of their own medicine to fun tricks with cars for those charming parking space hogs, you’ll find the best recipes for sweet revenge right here.”
As sweet as revenge may seem, the psalmist reminds us of something very important: God, and God alone, is judge. Our world is broken and people are sinful and as a result we sometimes get hurt by others – be it intentionally or unintentionally; we, of course, hurt other as well. Instead of taking our cues from culture and rising up to get revenge, we can offer our concerns to God, trusting that He is true to His promise to avenge us. Sometimes it seems like God is taking His sweet time, but we can be confident that God will act in His perfect time and in His perfect way—and that’s sweet! And if we have hurt others, then, we ought to seek forgiveness.
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for being merciful towards me, that is, not meting out the punishment I so deserve. Constantly remind me of what You did for me in Christ so that I may be merciful towards those who irritate and annoy me. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Kings 16
Lunch Break Study
Romans 12:17-21 (NIV): 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 his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Questions to Consider
- According to the passage, what is human revenge?
- What is the result of our revenge?
- How are we instructed to treat those who transgress us?
- Paul says that human revenge is evil. When we take it upon ourselves to pay back or get even when we’re wronged, we are sinning just as much as the person who has sinned against us. Instead, we have to do what we know is right, to extend forgiveness and allow God to punish and correct as He sees fit.
- We don’t leave room for God’s wrath. In other words, we take God’s place as judge. As good as we may think our plans for retribution are, they certainly don’t compare to God’s. And in the end, our plans are guided by our flesh while God’s plans are guided by His Spirit. Our plans lead to ruptured relationships whereas God’s plans lead to reconciliation.
- We are instructed to care for those who oppose us. This could point to providing for their physical needs which we should do for anyone we see in need to the extent that we are able. This could also point to realizing that people transgress us because they are lacking spiritually – sin at its core points to a separation from God. Therefore, when people sin against us, they are hungry for the Bread of Life and thirsty for the Water of Life. We have to remember that what they ultimately need is Christ. We can offer Him to them as we extend grace and love and pray for them.
Are there people in your life right now who have wronged you – maybe a coworker, a family member, or a friend? How have you responded? Spend some time offering these situations to God. Repent for taking it upon yourself to judge and condemn them. Acknowledge that God alone is judge. Pray for them, that God would give them more of himself – maybe even through you.
In a Sunday sermon, a pastor told this story: “A certain judge was constantly annoyed by the sneering remarks of a certain ‘wise cracking’ and abusive attorney. Instead of cracking down on the lawyer and silencing him, the judge would only smile and chew on his pencil until people wondered at his patience. At a dinner, someone asked him, ‘Judge, why didn’t you slap down that wise guy lawyer?’ The judge laid down his knife and fork and resting his chin on his hands said, ‘Up in our town there lives a widow who has a dog which whenever the moon shines, goes out and barks all night at the moon.’ Then the judge quietly resumed eating. One of the company asked, ‘But judge, what about the dog and the moon?’ And he replied, ‘Oh, well the moon just keeps right on shining!’”
No matter how much opposition we face from those around us, we cannot allow them to steal our joy. We are the light of the world. We have to continue to shine our light even in the darkest of situations. Pray and ask God to give you the wisdom and grace to do just that in situations of conflict or opposition you are facing.