Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. – Romans 12:9a
Nearing the end of his letter to the Roman church, Paul begins to teach them about living as part of the family of God and how each member of that body works in concert with the other parts. Then, he turns a small corner and says that when someone comes at you and makes your life miserable, or at least attempts to do so, that we are to respond in love, as Jesus commanded.
Have you ever had encounter with someone who just really got in your face and made you mad to the point of wanting to retaliate? I’m sure we could all answer in the affirmative to that question because our flesh wants to exact revenge on those that wrong us.
However, Paul writes here that we are to never take revenge. Instead, we are to let God avenge us because vengeance belongs to God, who repays. If we take matters into our hands, we block God from keeping his promise here. The only reward to be had in revenge is self-gratification, and we know anything labeled “self-” cannot be of God. We have to learn to submit our lives to God and humble ourselves even when people do us wrong.
Paul says to be kind to those that wrong us and to care for them because it will bring self-imposed shame upon them. Jesus put it this way, “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” (Luke 6:27-28) We are to extend God’s Grace and Love to those we care for as well as those who do us wrong! There is no reward for caring only for those that can return the favor.
It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to humble oneself to the point of forgiving (fully pardoning) those that wrong us. We are not to keep a record of the wrong to bring back up at a later time because Paul wrote in his first letter to Corinth, “Love is…patient and kind…not jealous or boastful or proud or rude…does not demand its own way…is not irritable…keeps no record of being wronged…does not rejoice about injustice… rejoices whenever the truth wins out…never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) We have to learn to be like Jesus in every situation life puts us in, daily. We have to be his disciples, who deny themselves, pick up their own crosses daily, and follow him, even if it hurts oneself.
Father, help me to walk in love at all times. This request is probably the most challenging I have ever made. I cannot walk in love without the power of your Holy Spirit living in me. I know that would be impossible in my strength. Sin nature of man just will not allow it. Help me to love justice, do mercy, and walk humbly before you. I’ve counted the cost of discipleship, and it’s expensive. It costs me everything! Help me I pray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.