Recently, I had a friend call me and ask for help. They were struggling with the hurt inflicted upon them by someone else. And they wanted revenge.
I shared with them the following:
The “fiery arrows” of Satan (cf. Ephesians 6:16) are tailor-made for each of us. His arrows for you are most likely aimed at different areas of life than mine.
Regardless, we can count on this: wherever we are weak, wherever we are struggling, that’s where the devil’s crosshairs are focused. And he is shooting at rapid fire speed.
There are people in my past that have hurt me deeply. It’s all I can do not to hate them. Sometimes I have to choose not to hate them more than once. (It may be surprising to know pastors struggle with this. But, we’re human, just like you.)
One of the passages that helps me find my “true north” when I’m a mess is from Romans 12.
“Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord.” – 12:19
Frankly, I want to be the one to “let them have it,” making sure they know how they made me feel, and what I think about them.
But, I know myself pretty well. It would be a disaster. My emotions would get in the way, preventing me from articulating how I truly felt. (You’re never weaker than when you’re angry.) And they wouldn’t “get it” anyway.
There are times when we are given permission by Jesus to “fire back.” And other times (most times) we are not. It’s for those times he tells us, “I’ve got this. I will make them pay on a level you never could.”
Other translations of that passage in Romans say,
“Vengeance is mine,’ says the Lord.” (emphasis mine)
Translation: God is warning us:
“Leave vengeance alone! Don’t touch it!”
Revenge belongs to God alone. If we touch it, it will only backfire.
I like how the Message Bible puts it:
“Don’t hit back.”
When you’ve been hurt, rest in the embrace of the Shepherd. He’ll take care of the wolves.