The Big Payback

I’ve been working on memorizing the verses we’re focusing on in Romans 12, about the transformed life. I used to pride myself on scripture memorization, as I was involved, as a young girl, in what we called Bible Drills in my church. I still credit those years with the reason I am able to recall as many verses as I can today.

However, the memory’s not what it used to be. Enough said.

Still, I am making the effort, because these verses, among others, are so helpful as reminders of what my life should look like as a Christ follower. It’s a work in progress.

As I reflect on today’s verse 19, I wonder why we’re circling back to the idea of repaying evil. Here’s what it says:

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Seems we were already told not to repay anyone evil for evil (see verse 17). Isn’t that the same thing he’s talking about here?

I’m not so sure.

Verse 17 was talking about not doing evil back to a person who had done evil to you. This verse seems to speak of revenge in a larger sense of the word.

What would be the things that would lead me to want to take revenge anyway? That seems to take repaying evil to a whole different level. What kind of things might lead me to such thoughts?

  • Child molestation.
  • Abuse toward children, women or the elderly.
  • Acts of terrorism.
  • Robbing the poor.
  • Unexplained acts of evil.
  • Murder.

When these seemingly “harsher” sins are committed in our world, it’s easy to see why thoughts of revenge come to mind. That’s when we need to stop.

Leave the big payback in God’s hands.

Though it might not look like it today or tomorrow, God does not allow sin to go unpunished. His wrath is sure.

The great day of the Lord is near—near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry. That day will be a day of wrath—a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness…*

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”*

No one can avenge sin like God, because no one is so utterly holy as he. That wrath is only held at bay by his mercy and grace, but rest assured — it will come for those who do not turn from their wicked ways and follow Christ.

Because of that, why should I bother myself with petty attempts at revenge? It’s not worth it. Seeking revenge only hurts myself, and it’s so short-lived. The wrath of God is for eternity. I surely wouldn’t want to face it.

So, when you get that feeling of righteous anger rising in your bones, take a breath, and let God handle it.

He knows what he’s doing.

Grace and Peace

 

*Zephaniah 1:14-15 (NIV)

*Romans 2:5-6 (NIV)

 


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