That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
Revenge appeals to our flesh. We want to retaliate when someone’s done something to hurt or offend us. We want to “get back” at them and show them what it feels like, so we say or do something to them hoping we can experience some relief.
Take a married couple, for example. One spouse does something to hurt the other. It could be something like hurtful words during a fight or it could be marital unfaithfulness. The other spouse has a choice in how they respond. They either show grace and forgive, or they say the words or break the trust because it was done to them.
Rarely do people feel better when they handle their own revenge. All it does is stir up an insatiable appetite for more revenge. When we allow someone else’s sin against us to determine if we will sin back, we’ve given them power over our choices. And retaliating with more sin hurts the heart of God first.
The toxic cycle goes like this: someone hurts us, we hurt them back with our sin, we sin against God, and then maybe the person is hurt. There’s no guarantee that our retaliation will hurt the person we intended to hurt, but it will always go against our God.
We think that stooping to the level of the person who hurt us is actually going to bring us comfort. It never does. And to make the entire situation worse, we know that God is not pleased and has called us to a higher standard. Instead of retaliating, what if we said to ourselves, “I’m not going to retaliate because I don’t want to sin against God”? Let’s allow our love and devotion to God to keep us from retaliating with more sin.
Everyone has something they are going through at any given time in their lives. Things that cause us great pain, which in turn leads us to do things we didn’t think we would do. Sometimes all we need to do is walk away, forgive, and pray for the person who hurt us. But for those whom we cherish and walk through life with, we can choose to empathize and show grace, for that will enlarge our hearts for the people God loves so deeply.
• Do you tend to be a person who wants revenge? Why or why not?
• Think of a time when you retaliated with more sin. Confess it and ask God to give you the strength to show grace next time.
““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.”
Matthew 5:38-40 NKJV