Proverbs 20:22, “Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the Lord, and He will deliver you.”
“I’ll get you!”
“Just wait until you hear from my lawyer!”
“You better watch your back!”
“You have been added to my ‘pay back’ list.”
Ever said those words? Ever thought them? We probably all have at some point in our lives. No one is exempt from the injustices of life. From the school yard bully to the corporate pirate, our lives are exposed to people who treat us unfairly. The question is, how do we handle those who harm us? And really, why is it so wrong to seek revenge?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:38-39.
There are several reasons taking justice into our own hands is wrong in Scriptures:
1) We spend a great deal of time focusing on the wrong instead of focusing on good. Bitterness eats at our insides like a festering boil. It affects the way we deal with our family, friends, co-workers, pets and even God. The wrong becomes an obsession and ‘getting even’ takes away the joy God wants us to have in our lives.
2) It is of little use. Realistically, it is an impossibility to execute justice without sinning ourselves. How can we truly pay back a wrong doing without doing a wrong ourselves? Does one sin balance out another? God makes it very clear that it is not our responsibility to avenge but His. Romans 12:19 reads, “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.”
3) It shows disrespect to God. When we take matters into our own hands, aren’t we lacking faith in God’s ability to handle it? Do you realize that God is so insistent upon us forgiving others that He tells us, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” – Matthew 6:15? If you want God to forgive you, you have to forgive those who wrong you. Those words are a bit hard to swallow. By exercising judgement on those who wrong us, are we essentially setting ourselves up for God’s judgment upon us?
4) It prevents weight loss. Unforgiveness is like 20 pound, 30 pound, and 50 pound weights on our ankles and arms. We come to a point where we cannot move freely. The constant desire for revenge makes the anchor heavier and heavier as we drag it around. Our steps become fewer, and we simply cannot go forward. But when we turn it over to God, the ropes are cut and our feet become like wings.
Know that your God will act on your behalf to right the wrong in His time. Today, turn over your ‘pay back’ list to God and lovingly move on to what God has in store for your life.