“Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
Biblically, God commands us not to pursue revenge against someone who has wronged us (Leviticus 19:18; Romans 12:17). Instead, He commands us to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Meaning our response should not be to inflict harm which would render us guilty before God. Understandably, when we are wronged, we argue in our defense and often our motive is to mete out what we think or believe is due revenge. By commanding us not to seek revenge, the Lord knows that hateful feelings are what motivates us, which is evil. At best, revenge is an expression of intended hateful feelings to cause harm. If we act from revenge we leave no room for corrective action, mercy and forgiveness and these are some of the remedies God gave in human society (Matthew 18:32-35).
I need to point out that this is not a study in social justice, but as an observation and useful to help Christians use the authorities in society to seek remedy. As a fact, we are often told that Christians must not take people to court because the Bible says “If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord's people?” (1 Corinthians 6:1). Now brethren, we need to understand that the apostle Paul is referring to disputes in the church and among brethren and not matters relating to social issues in society (1 Corinthians 6:5-6). As a fact, when the Jewish religious authorities persecuted Paul he wisely used the governing authorities of the day to help him find justice and to defend his faith (see chapters in Acts 22 -26). Furthermore, kindly allow me to clarify a point: it is always good to forgive an offender unconditionally; however, we are not commanded by the Lord not to pursue justice through our courts and of course after first seeking peaceful solutions from our offenders and authorities in our communities. When we pursue a matter legally especially where we voluntarily and contractually went into an agreement, our motive should be to seek action or compliance to settle our dispute with the other person and not revenge. Legally, we allow an independent person with knowledge about certain laws governing our relations to play an arbitral role and decide a matter between us and an offender in the interest of peaceful co-habitation. There are various teachings in the Bible, which encourage social justice (Exodus 18:24-26; 1 Kings 3:16-28; 2 Samuel 15:2; Isaiah 1:17).
How Worldly Movies Encourage Revenge
In many action films and TV shows, the plot which some movie directors and producers use is revenge and often in brutal ways. They subtly provoke an evil anger in their audience by using revenge as a motive in their message. This has also contributed to desensitizing Christians on the seriousness of this sin. Now brethren, as God fearing Christians, the Lord expects us to judge our motives in the light of His Word, giving love and forgiveness to an offender and pointing them to correction (2 Timothy 3:16). For the Lord Himself taught and clarified that we should extend love and forgiveness even to our enemies (Matthew 5:38-48). While the death of saints (the righteous) is precious in the sight of the Lord as they are reunited with Him in everlasting peace (Psalm 116:15), He also takes no pleasure (or delights) in the death of the wicked; His desire is for them to repent and turn away from their wicked ways so that they may live (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11). God loves all His children so much (John 3:16); He “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).
Allow God to Revenge and Fight Our Cause
Let me share a short testimony. A few years ago a very faithful member of our ministry was viciously assaulted and abused by evil men. This precious sister was left paralyzed with physical and emotional scars. The assault she endured left her permanently crippled in her left leg. From what we have witnessed, the abuse she suffered would provoke any person to hateful feelings and unforgiveness. However, this precious sister opted to obey the Lord and forgive her offenders without reservations. She shared with us that the night she was attacked and hospitalized, the Lord appeared to her on her bedside and commanded her to forgive the men who had abused and assaulted her and that He would punish them for what they did to her. As you may imagine she was still coming to terms with her ordeal with the wounds and pain still fresh in her mind, yet God asked her to forgive and she confessed that she was somewhat confused but not bitter and she forgave them.
It is a fact that some people find it very hard to forgive offenders immediately because some of us still need to work through it emotionally. I have personally counselled many people who found it very difficult to forgive others and some needed weeks, months and even years to work through their hateful feelings. Often, unforgiveness leads some people to curse and wish bad things on those who offended them. Some even revenge by withholding forgiveness. Their mind is focused on repaying evil and to their own loss. Beloved, like we shared in our Being Humble message, if the Lord would have come or we die while still struggling to forgive, we might be denied entry into Heaven! The Lord Jesus clearly warns us that if we do not forgive others their sins, our Father will not forgive our sins either (Matthew 6:15; Luke 11:26). Therefore, it is in our best interest to “bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
Similarly, about three years ago the Lord sent three of our daughters, between 10 and 12 years at the time to witness and share the gospel in a certain area. While they were busy handing out gospel tracts, an unknown man approached them and without warning took off his belt and started spanking them in public for no reason. Being humiliated they did not utter a word against the man; instead the Lord provided an elderly woman to rebuke their assailant. When the Lord visited Charis that evening, He said that they should forgive the man who attacked them and that He will repay the offender.
I also endured an attack and what made the situation uncomfortable is that I had to forgive and share my house with a young man who maliciously and violently attacked me. The attack left me disabled and fractured in my right hand with four (4) of my fingers badly bruised and nonfunctional. I repeatedly heard from the Lord in an audible voice, “But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them” (1 John 2:11). Admittedly, I did harbor strong feelings of hatred and I wanted to take revenge against the young man. However, as strong as these were, I persisted in prayer daily asking the Lord to forgive me and to deliver me from those hateful feelings. How I received my deliverance was I would go pray against and resist those hateful feelings every time they came over me until the Lord set me free and replaced those bitter feelings with a compassion and love for the young man.
Likewise, another sister in the ministry was recently emotionally hurt and offended by a relative. She found herself arguing and debating daily in her mind with this relative while harboring ill feelings towards her. The way she received deliverance was by acknowledging this as a sin before God each morning and asking for God’s help not to argue in her mind with her relative during the course of day (Psalm 50:15). Each time she would start debating in her mind, she would choose to repent, ask for forgiveness, forgive the relative, and pray blessings over her (Luke 6:27-28; 31). She did this for a few weeks until the Lord delivered her from this bondage. She no longer debates with her relative but feels peace towards her and is praying for her salvation.
As an encouragement to you our dear brothers and sisters, please don’t allow the devil to deceive you! Some of the skillful devices of the devil is to make us feel sorry for ourselves and have us think that others (offenders) are taking advantage of us especially if we choose to love and forgive them. We might be looked at as fools, but we are preciously living out the values the Lord taught and stood for.
We therefore encourage you brethren to leave room for God’s wrath (Romans 12:19) and allow him to sanctify us in His truth and will. Let us remember not to allow revenge to steal our salvation! This is not worthwhile since our years of faithful service in the Lord are about to be rewarded soon!
Whatever we do, let’s work at it with all our hearts, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since we know that we will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Jesus Christ we are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism (Colossians 3:23-25).
I encourage you with these words from the Lord to us recently: “I am READY to come – SOON!”
In Conclusion, have you been harboring grudges against anyone, and seeking to revenge or pay back in your own terms? Have you been trapped in anger and unforgiveness against someone who wronged you? Remember, vengeance belongs to God (Deuteronomy 32:35;43; Psalm 94:1-2 NKJV). Some great men of God like Paul and King David knew this and although they were wronged, they left vengeance up to God (2 Timothy 4:14; 1 Samuel 26:10-11). Our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ endured much hostility from sinners against Himself, yet He did not retaliate but forgave even while on the cross (1 Peter 2:23; Hebrews 12:3-4; Luke 23:34). The Bible admonishes us neither to say "I’ll pay you back for this wrong!"(Proverbs 20:22) nor to say "I'll do to them as they have done to me; I'll pay them back for what they did" (Proverbs 24:29). Therefore, please repent and pray for deliverance.
If you would like to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please pray this Prayer of Sincere Repentance to get you started. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.
Brother Glenn and Preparing for the Kingdom Ministry Team.