When You Want to Seek Revenge
Have you ever been wronged by someone? Perhaps by someone you trusted? You may have found that in time, you had the opportunity to retaliate in some way, returning wrong for wrong. It can be tempting to take advantage of such an opening! But look at what Paul writes:
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19 NKJV
As appealing as it may be, it is unrighteous for us as children of God to avenge ourselves.
We may recognize this in theory, but little do we realize revenge is exactly what we are seeking when we refuse to forgive. When we seek to correct a wrong done to us, we set ourselves up as judges. Yet Scripture tells us:
There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? …Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! James 4:12; 5:9 NKJV
You may have done nothing to provoke the wrong you incurred at the hand of another. However, if we contrast what was done to us with what we’ve been forgiven of by God, there is no comparison. In fact, if we feel cheated, we have lost our concept of the mercy extended to us.
Jesus often likened the condition of our hearts to that of soil. We are admonished to be rooted and grounded in the love of God. The seed of God’s Word will then take root in our hearts, grow, and eventually produce the fruit of righteousness—love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22–23).
But ground will produce only what is planted in it. If we plant seeds of unforgiveness and offense, another root will spring up in place of the love of God. It is called the root of bitterness.
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled… Hebrews 12:14–15 NKJV, emphasis added
Bitterness is a root. If roots are nursed—watered, protected, fed, and given attention—they increase in depth and strength. The Bible says a person who does not pursue peace by releasing offenses will eventually become defiled.
That which is precious will end up being corrupted by the vileness of unforgiveness. We don’t want that, and neither does God!
In Christ, we have the grace to forgive even the deepest of hurts. Do you believe you can trust God to act righteously on your behalf? What does it look like for you to live this truth out? Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in this process!