3. Pass the burden of revenge on to God where it belongs.
We can trust God to fully take care of justice. We can ask Him to implement His justice like the Psalmist did. This might speed up the judgment, but in the end God will surely carry out full justice on every wrong carried out on earth whether we ask Him or not. This is God's nature and duty. He is fully equipped and motivated to bring about judgment. This is an important issue. Read on carefully. At the end we will find a completely different approach that will free us from this need to bring harm to those who have done wrong to us or our loved ones.
A common reason people want to hold on to their unforgiving spirit is to bring proper revenge. "If I don't do it, no one else will!"
In all cases where a real wrong has been done (and there are innumerable such cases), revenge is due. Their desire for revenge is not wrong.
This is the sense of justice that God has instilled in man.
However, they are carrying justice out in the wrong way.
- God will take complete revenge. When we think of the consequences of eternal fire, could we want more than this? Really?
- We know next to nothing about carrying out proper revenge. Do we really know all that has happened? Only God knows the details and has the power to bring about justice. Our 'revenge' would bring about more injustice!
- Those who carry out revenge directly disobey the scriptures. They interfere with God's rule when they try to carry out revenge. God claims only He should take revenge. "Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath [of God,] for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord" Romans 12:19.
- Carrying out revenge keeps us from focusing on other scripture that God did tell us to obey. We are to forgive those who have offended us after the model of Jesus Christ.
"Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." (Colossians 2:13).
"For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." Matthew 6:145-15
- When we nurture our hate wounds, we cannot carry out God's commission of love. Jesus in Matthew 5:43-44 said, "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you." We are called to love not only those who without prior motive have hurt us or our loved ones such as a drunk driver. But we also are to love those who purposely hate us. These are our enemies.
- People insult God when they say they cannot forgive. They are essentially saying that God's judgment is insufficient. If the person is a Christian, then Christ indeed has paid for their sin. If they are not Christ's, then God said judgment is His call. 1 Peter 4:17-18 says,
"For [it is] time for judgment to begin with the household of God;
and if [it begins] with us first,
what [will be] the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
18 AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED,
WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?
Jesus Christ set the course for a whole new approach to handling offenses. We are not saying that this pattern was not set in the Old Testament. It was. However, Jesus Christ's life and work on the cross made it so much clearer for all of us. He offers us a way of living that goes far beyond anyone could have dreamed.
Two points to keep in mind here:
(1) God went to great means to forgive man of their sin. His only Son Jesus Christ died for the guilty. We are called to live in a similiar spirit of mercy. Do not pass judgment but bear patiently with the guilty.
(2) God wants us to go further than to just forbear the guilty. We could pass judgment just as God could have. But He wants us to take the opportunity to pass grace and kindness on to those who have grieved and offended us. Again, Christ was and is the perfect example of this.
This door of mercy and grace will be open only a little while longer. God is holding the door of grace open so that more guilty people like us can experience God's rich grace and mercy. 2 Peter 3:9-10a says,
"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness,
but is patient toward you,
not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, ..."
We need to take God's patience which holds back judgment to pass on His grace and love. One of the most strategic times to do this is when we have been offended. People that have hurt us expect us to act like the rest of the world. But we are to forgive. We are to love. We are to be like Christ.