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Why vengeance belongs to God
Revenge. Avengers. This words are more than the names of TV shows.
The concept of vengeance permeates our culture and saturates our thinking. Movies feature caped crusaders avenging the deaths of loved ones or wrongs that were committed against them. Some reality shows feature men and women confronting their cheating partners and spouses. Sometimes, they get back at their partners by physical violence like a slap or a punch.
Courtroom TV is full of people who have taken vengeance on another person. A wife keys the car of her husband’s girlfriend. The estranged husband who tries to take his children away from his wife. Malicious co-workers gossip about the people who got the promotion they wanted. Some magazines are full of this kind of scandalous and outrageous behavior, demonstrating that hell has no fury like a woman scorned.
In this day and age, the Internet has created new ways for people to take revenge on each other such as the posting of slanderous comments on social media or naked pictures/videos. There are many cases of divorced individuals who try to hurt their former mates by denigrating and complaining about them to their children. A thirst for revenge is our natural response to a perceived wrong. Our first instinct is to lash out and punish those who hurt us.
The First Wives Club
In the 1990s, a popular movie came out called "The First Wives Club," featuring three women seeking revenge on the husbands who rejected them for younger women. The friends were brought together at the funeral of a college friend who had committed suicide. She had also been dumped. At the funeral, the first wives discovered that they had something in common - all their spouses dumped them for younger women.
To the women of ``The First Wives Club,`` it was so unfair that their husbands left them. In fits of righteous indignation, the women plotted. One took control of her husband’s financial affairs by blackmail - threatening to expose his shady business practices. Another wife threatened to expose her husband's affair with an ditzy underage actress. Another bought out the partners in her husband’s business and took control of his company.
They extorted money from their spouses as revenge at first. Ultimately, the women realized that revenge was not giving the satisfaction and results they were seeking. They then concentrated their efforts on a more worthwhile pursuit - building a counselling center for women in honor of the mutual friend who had committed suicide.
God as our avenger
God takes the right to avenge to Himself and tells His people not to take avenge themselves(Romans 12:19). Why? Because revenge can be a powerful, destructive force that we can’t handle. It is like trying to control a storm - it just doesn work.
A person who sets out to wreck vegeance on someone else is full of toxic pain and anger that will end up hurting much more than their target. Their anger would lead to sin that will cause pain not only to the individuals who wronged them, but to the innocents around them, such as their family and friends.
Bible Verses about revenge
"Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you."
"Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord."
God does not want us to be in a constant state of anguish and rage. Instead, He assures us that He sees how people sin against us and will take action against them. God wants us to forgive our enemies and pray for them. He understands that we will be upset by the actions of others but tells us not to hold on to our anger (Ephesians 4:26). God tells us to put away our malice (Ephesians 4:31). If we don`t, we are opening the door for the devil to enter our lives.
The difference between revenge and accountability
There is a big difference between revenge and accountability. For example, let's say a woman is raped. She had a choice to ignore it and pretend that it didn't happen, or she can reveal the identity of the attacker to the police, have him arrested, and testify against him in court. She is holding him responsible for his criminal behavior, not acting in vengeance. Justice is served because he ends up in jail where he can't harm her or other women.
In this situation, the woman can, with God's help, forgive him and deal with the pain of her ordeal. Or she can choose to take vengeance and in a state of self-destructive rage of hatred, harm him or kill him. Then she ends up in jail too.
The negative emotions that brought her to that toxic mental state could also push her to other destructive behavior that will harm her and others.
God commands us to love and forgive one another. That state of being is the opposite of the bitterness and hatred that stirs up the desire to take revenge. In the end, revenge wrecks havoc like a hurricane, destroying everything in its path, including the person committing the act. When a divorced person puts down their former mate to their children, for example, it confuses and hurts the kids.
The women of "The Fist Wives Club" realized on their journey that the quest for revenge was not constructive in the end. The little bit of satisfaction derived from an act of vengeance is nothing compared to the satisfaction of knowing that God will deal with these difficult situations for us. We can be sure that He will be our avenger when we are wronged.