Today I had a conversation with X. He had lost everything… really everything. Not through his own doing, but because someone did it to him. He is a victim. He lost his home, no contact with family, money and especially his dignity as a human being. Likewise, he was rightly angry about that, humanly speaking, furious. And wanted justice. Even more than that.
How do you deal with that. So, what does that justice look like? Because perhaps that justice will never come… will they catch the perpetrator? Will the police do their job, and will the perpetrator go to jail??? X his feelings of revenge were perfectly understandable from a human point of view, but how do you deal with that? X is a Christian… but yes, you are also human…
From a Biblical perspective, we answered the question like this: (Hold on, lots of text)
We started with the following text:
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.Romans 12:19
“Yes, that’s easy to say. And easy to say, but what good is it to me now?” And yes, we understand perfectly why he says that! So, we went to look further…. if God is the person who says it’s up to Him to take revenge…. how does he do that and why? Let’s start with why:
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.Romans 8:17
As a Christian, you are a child of God… So someone who harms you… does harm to your Father… And that Father (God) stands up for you! How? Shiver and shake…. This is what God says about someone who let one of His children stumble:
If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.Matthew 18:6
Wow… that doesn’t sound good… that definitely sounds like a father standing up for His children. A father who is VERY careful of His children and defends His children! And not just a little…
Wait a minute… but that God is only love, isn’t it? Nope. (see: Romans 1:18-32 ) God is a righteous God, and He DEFINITELY comes back at you when you do evil. That bill is coming. The previous text is already spicy, but for the enthusiasts, read Numbers 31 Wow… There you see what God gives as recompense for evil done to His children and thus Him… wow… Nothing fluffy about it… on the contrary. That is a God who takes Divine revenge… Men, women, the cattle, everything goes up in flames… wow…
If you realize that… what it looks like when God takes revenge on another for you… because he has wronged Him… That’s not a bit of revenge… that’s all destructive.
Then earthly justice is suddenly easy and almost “cute”. A few years in prison and you’re done. Perhaps your whole life in prison, but in relation to (literally!) your whole city, all your family, everything gone… then prison… or a “alternative sentence” is suddenly nothing… With God’s vengeance, you are not done in a couple of years.
Then you hope and pray that that person who has done all that evil to you will repent VERY soon… and you hope and pray that this happens while that person is still alive and has a chance to come to God… Then you hope and pray that that person will accept Christ as his saviour from all evil… Because if God remembers what that person has done to you… that person has a HUGE problem when he arrives at the pearly gates… But… if that person accepts Jesus as his saviour… then, only then, the following verse applies:
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.Hebrews 8:12
And that’s the only chance… If that person doesn’t… God will take revenge for you… wow… just wow…
And if you are a Christian… and you really understand the above… you also understand what Christ has done for you… He has forgiven all your sins… everything… And if you understand that, you will also understand the following part:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?
Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back. But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.
When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.Matthew 18: 21-35
This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.
And after we discussed all that… we asked God if He would lead that person, the person who hurt X, to God… because yes, humanly speaking, we would like justice for everything that happened… and we hope and pray that the police will give that person his earthly deserved punishment… But if that person does not repent in this life… then God will take revenge…. and that’s quite something… to say the least…
To God is the vengeance… let’s pray that that doesn’t happen..
And X? Yes, what happened still hurts. His grief is real. But the feelings of revenge, which consume so much energy when he really needs that energy for healing… that has changed. It gets a different perspective. A divine place with more tranquillity and (however strange)… God’s peace. Even in this difficult time.