"Vengeance is Mine!"
Thursday - July 2nd Scripture to Read for Today's Devotional: Romans 12:14-19
Today's Selection from our Sermon on the Mount Reading Plan: Matthew 7:1-12
Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God.
"My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." That is perhaps one of the most famous lines of the cult classic film, "Princess Bride." Montoya tracks the evil Count Rugen in hopes of avenging his father's murder at the hands of the Count. He repeats that phrase over and over again as he tells those along his journey about his driving motivation to kill Rugen. By the time he confronts the Count toward the end of the movie, everyone watching the movie can quote his statement of revenge.
Montoya was obsessed with exacting revenge on his father's murder so much that he sees little of anything else along his journey. The anger he has stored deep in his heart consumes him. It is easy to get to that place in our own lives. We can be hurt so badly by someone else or have someone we love dearly hurt so badly by someone else that we become consumed with vengeance. Often the bitter anger does more to wound and hurt us than it does to hurt the person who is the object of our rage.
In the opening verses of Romans chapter 12, the Apostle Paul challenges us to surrender ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord. He tells us that such a surrender is an act of worship. Throughout much of the remaining chapter, Paul expresses how that surrender will reshape our lives and our outlook. He emphasizes our relationship with those with whom we disagree or by whom we have been hurt. At the center of this discussion, Paul says, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all" (v18).
While we do not control all of the variables, we are told to seek a peaceable life with others. As the followers of Christ, we should not go about life with a chip on our shoulder - looking for an outlet for our anger, rage, and vengeance. Would others around you say that they see and sense your desire to live peaceably with everyone? Or, would they say you are cantankerous, always looking for a fight?
Paul answers the primary objection folks might raise about this idea of living peaceably with all people. That objection that many believe makes revenge permissible becomes legitimate when that person has hurt you or someone you love. Paul says that we are not to take out vengeance on others on our own. We should wait and let the Lord pour out His vengeance on them in his time. That timing may not happen on this side of eternity. It may be exacted on them as they stand before God as their judge. Waiting for the Lord to deal with someone who has mistreated us is never easy. But, God makes it clear that as followers of Jesus, revenge should not be one of the tools in our relationships.
Think about it. Whatever you and I might do to get revenge comes from our own humanity and will fall short of what a Holy God will do. Paul quotes God when he says, "Vengeance is mine!" (v19).
Has someone hurt, wronged, or mistreated you or someone you love? If so, don't take on the burden of being the one who brings justice and vengeance on the guilty party. Let God do that.
Take that person's name and the situation of mistreatment to the Lord in prayer and turn that person over to Him in your mind. As you do, you release the rage, anger, and bitterness you have harbored, and you trust God to bring the correction or judgment He deems fit for that person. Again, this is not easy. But, remember it is God who says, "Vengeance is mine."
Taking out revenge never meets our expectations, but God will judge righteously and right!