In the early days of TV, there was a popular comedy show called “Amos and Andy,” known for its far-fetched gags. One of which, there was a big man who would always slap Andy in the chest, which he detested. Finally, Andy got enough of it and said to Amos, “I am ready for him. I put a stick of dynamite in my vest pocket and the next time he slaps me, he is going to get his hand blown off!” To cherish vengeful feelings is like having a stick of dynamite hidden in our pocket. Such a volatile attitude may trigger explosions that not only do irreparable harm to other people, but to us as well.
The spirit of revenge crept into the lives of the disciples. When Christ was rejected by a village of Samaritans, James and John wanted fire to come down from heaven to destroy the people. Jesus rebuked them by saying, “You do not know what spirit you are of” (Luke 9:51 – 56). Marilyn vos Savant correctly observed, “An act of justice closes the book on a misdeed; an act of vengeance writes one of its own.”
Instead of taking revenge, we are told, “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’: wait on the Lord, and He will save you” (Proverbs 20:22). Fenelon, a 17th –century theologian, explained it this way, “Don’t be so upset when evil men and women defraud you. Let them do as they please; just seek to do the will of God…silent peace and sweet fellowship with God will repay you for every evil thing done against you. Fix your eyes on God.”
In Romans 12:19, Paul admonished, “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” (NIV). A little boy, being asked what forgiveness is, gave this answer, “It is the odor that flowers breathe when they are trampled on.” When Philip the Good was advised to punish someone who had badly betrayed him, declined, saying, “It is a fine thing to have revenge in one’s power; but it is a finer thing not to use it.”
Someone stated, “You will never get ahead trying to get even.” During one of the persecutions of the Armenians by the Turks, an Armenian girl and her brother were trapped by a bloodthirsty Turkish soldier. He killed the brother before the terrified eyes of the girl. She managed to escape by clambering over a wall and fleeing the country. Later, she became a nurse, and one day a wounded soldier was brought into the hospital where she worked. She recognized him at once as the man who had killed her brother. His condition was such that the least neglect or carelessness on the part of the nurse would have cost him his life. However, she gave him the most painstaking and constant care. One day when he was on the road to recovery, he recognized her and asked, “Why have you done this for me who killed your brother?” “Because I am a Christian,” the nurse replied. “I am following One who has taught me to forgive those who wrong me.”
Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida www.davidarnoldonline.org