When I am wronged I feel like a big, ugly, raging gorilla. And all I want to do is get even. But God said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay” (Deuteronomy 32:35, NIV). And Jesus said, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39b, NIV). At first these words made no sense to me whatsoever. That is, until I considered the promises vengeance makes and its actual results.
When I consider vengeance in my heart it promises to “teach that person a lesson” and to “set things right.” Upon looking back at my own vengeful behavior all it taught the other person was how to be vengeful. It set nothing right. And, in fact, it only put more hatred between us.
When I realized there was nothing to be gained by revenge I looked at God’s commands differently. Jesus loved His enemies and prayed for those that persecuted Him. And He committed all things to His Heavenly Father’s care, even His death. What are the results of such love?
When others have been good to me when I didn’t deserve it, it has disarmed my anger. There was no motivation to continue in anger when the other party is returning genuine kindness and concern; having been given a listening ear, now I wanted to listen. I received a sense of being valued, which to me was far more valuable than what I was fighting for. I learned from them and wanted to set things right.
Love accomplished what vengeance could not. But returning love for anger is tough. We may fail at times, many times. But it is worth the struggle, because when we succeed we can be sure that the results will last forever.
To learn more about love, read the Bible, (Matthew 5:38-48, Romans 12:9-21); talk to someone who loves Jesus and others; visit a church that honors the Bible as the Word of God.