Do you as a Christian ever find yourself seeking vengeance? Most people would answer “no” to that question quickly without even giving it any thought. We must take the time to search our hearts when asked a question like this.
Vengeance comes from bitterness and bitterness from an unforgiving heart. Have you ever been there? An unforgiving heart? Have you been wronged and feel justice wasn’t served? Vengeance isn’t just a physical act. It can be emotional, even mental.
Years ago one of my children had something awful happen to them by someone I trusted. I’ve battled with forgiveness ever since. Forgiveness that unfortunately turned into bitterness. Anger consumed me. There would be no justice for my child. No apology. No making it right. Let me tell you, as a woman who comes from a past filled with trauma, it is so much easier to forgive someone when they have offended YOU personally. As a mother, it’s much harder to forgive someone that has harmed your child.
Not just because they are children, even though that’s enough. But because they are YOUR child. Your child, that you are supposed to protect. I should have been there. I should have known. I should have been watching more closely. I should have……
These are the thoughts that run through your head. Torturing a mother.
As a parent you are not just faced with forgiving the offender but sometimes forgiving yourself. Be it wrong or right, this was the reality that I had found myself in. I should have……If I had only…….
I knew I needed to forgive both of us to release myself. God tells us that it’s not our battle. He is the one to serve justice in the end. But in my bitterness I wasn’t acting in vengeance was I? I hadn’t let it get that far.
It was a hard pill to swallow, but yes.
My view of vengeance was a physical act. Paybacks. Something you could see. But vengeance is much more than that. It’s cursing the offender, either with words or thoughts. It’s the rage that fills your body, muscles tighten, pulse rises when we see their face. Disgust. It’s someone blessing or honoring that person and you feel the need to fill them in on what that person is “really” like. It’s pointing out character flaws and shaming or bring up their past. It’s a sharp tongue or a spiteful answer.
This type of vengefulness is trying to justify our own bitterness. “Did you see what they did?” “Well, you don’t know them like I do…” They don’t deserve that.” “Well, they won’t amount to much or get very far.”
It’s a look. A pursed lip. Avoidance.
Cursing them, either with your actions, tongue or even your thoughts. Yes you can inflict much damage onto someone just by the thoughts you have. Even on yourself.
God tells us that it is HIS justice. That HE will make right the wrongs that were done to us, not ours. He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord
2 Thessalonians 1:5-8
All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
This promise gave me some much needed perspective.
- First, God adores us and he will serve his wrath to those that wronged us. Maybe to some of you that may offer comfort or release. For me it offered rest along with my own repentant heart. Do I really want my offender standing before God accused…..and tossed into the fiery pits of hell for eternity? And humbly I answered, “no”. I do not wish that on anyone, even my worst enemy.
- Second, don’t I really deserve the same wrath? If all sin is sin to God. How is my sin any lesser than that of my offender? In my mind it may be, but not in God’s. We’ve all fallen short. The only difference is that my sin has been forgiven, by accepting Jesus as the Lord of my life.
- And finally, if I don’t wish God’s wrath on my enemies, and it’s his promise, then I need to feverishly pray for them. Pray that they repent and accept the Lord as their savior. I need to bless them with not only my words but also my thoughts.
Do you struggle with forgiveness? Maybe you sense a seed of bitterness in your heart like I did. Maybe you are having a hard time forgiving yourself?
You are so deeply loved by the Father that he is willing to fight for you, and your battles. Hand them over to God. His justice is truer and wiser than any form of repayment you could think of. And pray for your offender. As hard as it is bless them.
Luke 23:34 Father forgive them for they know not what they do.