Have you recently experienced hurt from someone close to you? Possibly a family member, spouse, friend, or even the church? How we respond to an offense should never be determined by our emotions, but should be determined by how Christ responds to us although we offend Him repeatedly.
The reason why we are often tempted to take matters into our own hands and seek revenge, is simply because we do not trust God. His Word says:
“Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,“I will take revenge; I will pay them back,”, says the Lord. - Romans 12:19
He is not interested in feeding our ego, but in developing our character. We can rest assure that when we leave the situation in His hands, God will repay. However, this does not mean that He will repay in the way our flesh would so desire. God will surely repay in His time, in His way and for His glory.
When we extend grace and forgiveness:
Forgiveness may break the cycle of retaliation and lead to mutual reconciliation.
It may make your offender feel convicted, and they are led by the Holy Spirit to change their ways.
Even if your enemy never repents, forgiving him or her will free you from a heavy load of bitterness.
So how should we respond in the meantime?
“Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them.If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.In doing this, you will heap, burning coals of shame on their heads.” - Romans 12:20
“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends,how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” - Matthew 5:44-48
As believers we are called to take the high road by showing love to those who hurt and offend us. “Giving your enemy a drink” does not mean that we are excusing the misdeeds, but we are recognizing him or her, forgiving them, and loving them in spite of their sins - just as Christ did for us. When we give way to our flesh and retaliate, we become just like our offender. However, biblical love is reciprocated to others in the same way that Christ showed His love to us:
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” - Romans 5:8
One key to maintaining love, peace, and other godly characteristics is to let God deal with the injustices. There is no place, nor do we ever have the right for personal retaliation (Romans 12:19). We are commanded to always overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
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