A PERFECT MOMENT TO STRIKE BACK
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19
Kids learn quickly how to take revenge. When someone plays a practical joke on them, they may pretend that it didn’t faze them but watch out. When the jokester is long past the joke he played and forgets to watch his back, revenge is taken. The payback is usually worse, too. That’s because revenge is in our bones. It is our natural response to being hurt.
I was the brunt of many practical jokes, really bullying, in junior high and high school. Drugs were planted in my locker. The same group of kids who planted the drugs would often wait for me to leave the building to find my bus. They would splash me from head to toe with mud or empty my book bag and throw all my papers in the air. By the time I retrieved them, I had missed the bus. I dreamed of revenge but didn’t know how to act it out since I was only one person and they were more than a half dozen.
You’ve heard of someone taking advantage of you when there’s ‘blood in the water’. You know the phrase? Like a shark who is drawn to a scene where there is already something wounded. Many of us have been hurt in our moments of weakness. Abuse happened when we forgot to lock the door. Break-ins happened when we were home alone. Those who wished to inflict a wound just intuitively knew that they would be far more successful if they struck at our weakest moment. It was cruel but effective.
So when might we be tempted to take revenge? In their weakest moment. We take out our anger on an aging parent who can no longer defend themselves. We wait for that moment when our ‘enemy’ needs from us what they refused to give. It’s the perfect setup and unless we are Spirit-led, it is too great a temptation.
David knew the power of a perfect opportunity. On two occasions, it appeared that God had delivered him into Saul’s hands. A sleeping king was an easy target. But David came upon him, looked, was tempted, but trusted His God to rule. He walked away.
Sooner or later, our enemies grow old. Grow weak. Get sick. Lose a child. Suffer unemployment. My response in that moment is what will reveal the real essence of my faith and trust in God. Will I strike when they’re down, when there’s blood in the water? Or will I walk away from the opportunity and leave the matter in God’s hands.
Cruelty was heaped upon cruelty when you walked the road to Calvary. You could have struck back and rallied the armies of heaven. And oh, your revenge! But You left the matter to Your Father and blessed those who cursed You. Only by Your grace can I do the same. Amen