Jesus Teaches about Revenge: 3030 Challenge #Day 7


Sweet Revenge:

I read and quote here a statement made around 120 A.D., by  a Roman satirist named Juvenal:

Indeed, it’s always a paltry, feeble, tiny mind that takes pleasure in revenge. You can deduce it without further evidence than this, that no one delights more in vengeance than a woman.

Ladies, how do you feel about that? Don’t you just want to kill the man that said that? You know, when I read this, I just wondered what this guy’s wife must have been like!

The truth is that it’s not just women who are interested in revenge. We all are. It’s something that we find sweet and satisfying—to know that the other person got what was coming to them. We love to get even.

Jesus also has something to say about the subject of revenge, and unlike his contemporary, he meant this teaching for both men and women.

Matthew  5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’

Anti = instead of (same word used of Jesus dying instead of us).  A replacement.

This was meant to restrain revenge, to make sure that the punishment did not exceed the crime. There was room for grace and alternative punishments. But this kept people from going too far in their punishments.

When someone hurts us… Our natural tendency is payback.

We want them to hurt like we were hurt. We talk about getting even, and settling the score. The idea is that because they hurt us we now owe them some hurt in return. And that’s one debt we’re only too glad to settle.

This law, written in the OT, was actually designed to prevent personal vendettas from inflicting a harsher punishment than the criminal deserved. If somebody blinded someone, they shouldn’t be killed for it. They should be held accountable for only an eye. Many times these debts were paid with a cash settlement—whatever amount an eye or a tooth was worth. The Bible supports measured justice.

But even if we stay within the bounds of inflicting reciprocal pain, we’re still missing the point. Because our external conformity to the demands of justice is often masking an internal problem: we want revenge. And revenge is sin. So Jesus says,

Matthew 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ [39] But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person.

When we are hurt, we want payback.

But Jesus says, “Don’t fight back.”

The word “resist” means “to oppose, set one’s self against”

Stand plus Anti. “To be hostile towards”

The idea is not so much about non-resistance as it is about not facing off.

This is not pacifism (a refusal to meet evil with violence or war).

There seems to be plenty of room in the Bible for self-defense.

But this is clearly not aggressive, either.

This verse is a specific warning not to take personal retribution.

Don’t escalate the situation by “getting even”.

Rather, de-escalate. Diffuse. Lower the stakes.

Pacify. Endure. Forgive.

This is not a natural response: It is supernatural.

Jesus calls us to respond counter-intuitively. Instead of meeting evil with equal or greater force, he urges us to meet evil with a completely different force: with good. Instead of paying back in kind, we are called to pay back with kindness.

There’s a parallel passage in Romans 12 that explains how this works.

Romans 12:17-21 (NIV) Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

Don’t do evil just because someone did evil to you.

They did the wrong thing. You do the right thing.

Doesn’t that sound like something we tell our kids?

The younger one hits the older one. So the older one hits them back.

Then the younger one complains to mom and dad.

“Mom, David hit me.”

Mom says, “David, did you hit your little sister?”

“Yeah.” “Why would you do such a thing?”

“Because she hit me first.”

 And you want so bad for them to get it.

You say: “You just concentrate on making sure that you’re doing the right thing and don’t worry about what your sister is doing. I’ll take care of her.”

That’s exactly what God is trying to say to us. Don’t get involved in the business of trying to get even—making sure everybody gets what they deserve. That’s God’s job and he’s really good at it. Instead, we’re supposed to try to get along as much as possible.

[18] If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

May not be possible, but we should do whatever we can on our side.

“But if we do that, if no one stands up to the aggressor, if we don’t give him what he deserves, then he’s just going to keep on doing it! If he gets away with it this time, he’s just doing to do it to someone else. Where does that leave justice?”

God has an answer for you:

[19] 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.

God will take care of justice. It may not be when we want it. It may not be how we want it. But He will make sure that justice is done.

Paul goes on in Romans 12:

Do not take revenge… [20] On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” [21] Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

We are to answer evil with good.

In Matthew 5:39–  Jesus gives us four examples of this principle of answering evil with kindness and generosity.

Physical assault

Unfair lawsuits

Compulsory service

Exploited generosity

[5:39] If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Don’t try to get even.

Be kind and generous even when… Someone verbally or physically assaults your person 

[5:40] And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 

Be kind and generous even when… Someone unjustly cheats you out of your property

If you’re in the wrong, make a generous settlement. And if you’re not in the wrong, put on a defense, but don’t try to get revenge. Don’t hold so tightly to what you own that it prevents you from making peace.

[5:41] If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 

Repay evil with good. Offer to go another mile. Give him more than he has the right to demand.

Be kind and generous even when… Someone forces you to do something against your will 

[5:42] Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 

This is another one of those verses that causes so much soul-searching and confusion. At face value, this seems to be saying that we should give everyone whatever they ask for. In fact, I’ll make it even more unappealing. I think that because of the context, it’s probably talking about people who are actually taking advantage of your generosity. What they deserve is nothing. But Jesus tells us to continue to be generous. Don’t try to punish them by cutting them off from help. Be kind. Be generous. Even if they mistreat you or manipulate you or lie to you.

Be kind and generous even when… Someone takes advantage of your generosity 

Jesus says, I know that justice is important to you. I know that it hurts when you’ve been wronged. But be careful. There’s a danger here. Never let your thirst for justice turn into a quest for revenge. Don’t get even. You’ve been attacked and cheated and forced and taken advantage of. But answer the evil with kindness and generosity. And then leave everything else to God. 

How are you going about your quest for justice?

COMING SOON: Hello bloggers, readers, and all encouragers! I am pleased to announce that I will be starting a Sunday link up party #EncourageMeLinkup on this blog. It will be rolling out on Sunday, 13th September 2015. I invite you to get ready to party and encourage one another. Thank for your constant support.– Love, Grace.

Join Me here Today: Spiritual Sundays, Sunday Stillness, Lisa Epperson, Mom’s small victories

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  • Thanks for sharing at Sunday Stillness. A good lesson. I love how you explained that this not taking revenge can only happen supernaturally. love that.

  • Thanks for sharing at Sunday Stillness. A good lesson. I love how you explained that this not taking revenge can only happen supernaturally. love that.

  • Pingback: You Are Forgiven... - INTENTIONAL247()

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