Hello everybody! It's been two weeks since my last post. I've been trying to decide on what to post about, but nothing was really coming to mind. A bit of blogger's block. This past weekened I did a brief photo shoot and interview, so I'll have a portrait post before long, but until I have that ready, I've got this. I came across a story on CNN last week that got me thinking about revenge. A man and woman in California are going through a divorce, and it is apparently a nasty divorce. The article did not mention why the couple is breaking up, but I inferred that the woman felt it was the man's fault. So, she assaulted him. Officially, she is being charged with torture and aggrevated mayhem, and could also face a poisoning charge. You can read the article about the crime and her charges here. (WARNING: The crime she is accused of is of a graphic nature). When the police and medics showed up, she stated that he "deserved it". What she did was in some way an act of revenge. So today, let's look at revenge. What is it? Is it ever meritted? Does the Bible say anything about revenge? My thoughts after the jump.
Revenge is a dish best served cold. This is an old saying. It means that revenge should be done without caring, without compassion for the recipient and their feelings or well-being. You wouldn't care if you hurt them, because they hurt you. You might say, "they wronged me though, isn't getting revenge just making sure justice is met?" For most people, no. Revenge, more times than not, is about doing harm to the person, and making your own justice, outside of the law. Perhaps I can explain better with an example or two. Justice would be a court putting in jail a drunk driver that killed your child. Revenge would be going out to find that drunk driver and killing him for killing your child. Justice would be if you divorced your husband and took half of your possessions and money after he cheated on you. Revenge would be assaulting him in a manner like the woman in the CNN story did. You see, revenge is going outside of the law, outside of justice. Pure revenge leaves no room for forgiveness and repentance, no room for fair defense or trial, and uses only blind emotion rather than emotion backed by sound reason. Justice is an act of love because it allows for the possibility of repentance and forgives, it allows a person an opportunity to fairly defend themselves, and ideally for the punishment to fit the crime.
We are supposed to act in love toward one another. Revenge is holding a grudge, repaying the original wrong with another wrong, and being glad to do it. What does 1 Corinthians say though? "...[love] keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil..."--1 Corinthians 13:5b-6a. Revenge is not loving. It repays evil with evil. Notice I said that it repays evil. I am in no way condoning the original evil. If your spouse cheats on you, they have comitted a sin against you. They have done wrong. If after that though, you were to assault the spouse, or vandalize their vehicle or some other act like those, then you now have also comitted a wrong, you now have sinned as well. Remember too, that in most countries, adultery, while certainly immoral and wrong, is not a crime. Assault, vandalism, and murder on the other hand, are. By comitting those sins as an act of revenge, you are "delighting in evil," even if you were to later regret them.
So does the Bible say anything about revenge specifically? Yes it does. Take a look at this passage from Romans 12:17-21
"Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“ If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
We are not to be overcome by evil, but rather to do good to those that do evil to us. We are to "turn the other cheek." It is not our place to seek vengence anyway. That belongs to God alone. Why is God able to carry out vengence without sinning? Because only got can deliver vengence in a way that is also completely justified. God is the perfect judge. So in the future, if somebody wrongs you, seek first reconciliation and justice, not revenge. Revenge will only damage the relationship fiurther, or even get you into trouble yourself.
There is more that can be said on this topic, so if anybody has other questions on what I think about this topic, feel free to ask in the comments, and I'll let you know my perception. Have a great day!