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“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. “
When others hurt us, whether physically, emotionally, or both, our nature is to hurt them in return, and if we are honest, we want them to suffer more. Our sinful nature drives our inner desire to inflict injury against those who injure us. However, the apostle Paul reflects on the Lord’s words that said vengeance belongs only to God. Therefore, we are not to take revenge into our own hands.
What does it mean to leave room for God’s wrath if we cannot take revenge against those who hurt and persecute us? Does that imply we can take a little revenge if we leave room for God’s vengeance? The answer is no; we must not take even a little revenge. Leaving room for God’s retribution is the line in the sand, per se, between taking action to defend ourselves or going on the offense.
The Bible does not teach that Christians cannot defend themselves from physical or emotional abuse, only that we are not to pursue hurting that person or group in the same way or worse. When people seek revenge against others, it is not righteous retribution but evil vengeance. That is why it is to be left in God’s hands because His punishment will always be righteous and just.
As Christians, we must seek to become more Christ-like every day. Therefore, how did Jesus react when one of the officials of the high priest struck him? He responded calmly and without retribution. How did the Lord react when Roman guards inflicted pain and suffering and nailed him to a cross? He said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)
Therefore, when others hurt or attempt to hurt us, we can and must defend ourselves and our families without question. However, we must never seek to inflict harm on others beyond protecting ourselves because when we do, we are no better than the world in which we live. When we follow our Lord’s example by exercising self-restraint, we reflect His love for the world to see.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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