Substitute Revenge with ________
What are your first thoughts when someone has wronged you or treated you in a negative manner? Typically, our immediate reaction as humans to these situations is to act rashly and seek revenge. The feeling of seeking retaliation is an action that has always affected our world from the beginning and still exists today. When Cain was angry that God was not pleased with his offering, he immediately reacted by seeking revenge on his brother Abel and killing him. Even today, you can see acts of disrespect and striking back occurring when our presidential candidates are participating in the national debates. Revenge is something that we should not seek, but should be handled by our God. “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
To fight the urge of seeking revenge when you’re in a situation, we can seek other alternatives that are pleasing in God’s sight. Substituting revenge with forgiveness, love, and goodness are alternatives that we are commanded to act with according to the Word.
Forgiveness- We need to always forgive others, when they are in the wrong. No one on this earth is perfect, and we all make mistakes. So why should we
ever hold someone else to those standards? Our Lord states “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you of your transgressions.” (Mark 11:25)
Forgiving someone of their wrongdoing isn’t always an easy option to take on. It takes work and a lot of self-control to forgive someone, especially when it’s a situation that seems unfair to you. There isn’t a more unfair scenario than the one our Savior took on to redeem us of our sins, so that one day we might be able to spend eternity with Him. While being mocked, spat upon, and nailed to the cross, not once did Jesus ever blame those who were doing that to Him. He had the power to retaliate against them, and He could have served justice to those who were disrespecting Him, but He didn’t. Instead He said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) To be imitators of Christ, you must act like Christ did and show forgiveness to those who may not deserve it.
Love- Hatred is the automatic feeling that most have when they want to seek revenge against someone. We should not possess hatred toward anyone, but should love one another. When the Pharisees asked Jesus “which is the greatest commandment,” Jesus told them first “Love the Lord thy God,” and second to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matt 22). Treating others the way you want to be treated will sometimes humble a person that has wronged you.
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers at a young age, and he lived a life with many obstacles thrown at him. After being betrayed by his brothers, being sold multiple times, being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and thrown in jail, you would think a guy would want to get some payback when his time came to do so. Instead, Joseph showed his brothers love and compassion and blessed them during the famine. The love that Joseph showed to his brothers is the same love that we should have towards others, no matter the situation.
“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
Goodness- Seeking that which is good will always help resolve conflicts. Showing goodness to someone who does not deserve it will have an effect on that person’s actions in the future. I’ve encountered and seen conflicts that were handled with goodness, and it typically surprises the perpetrator and makes an impact on them in their future actions. In Romans 12:20-21, it states “if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Seeking goodness for everyone in a conflict is what we are told to do. It may not seem like the instinctive and good option at the time, but it is pleasing in our Father’s sight, and that’s what should matter to us.
Revenge is a dangerous temptation that we encounter too often in our lives, but it’s something that tests our faith and will. Substituting revenge with forgiveness, love, and goodness to others will help you overcome this temptation.
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:35)