Have you noticed many action movies follow a simple pattern? There’s a nice unassuming guy and someone does something terrible to him so he launches into a violent, blood-soaked plan of revenge. Our culture is permeated with this idea of exacting well-deserved vengeance on anyone who wrongs us.
But this is not reality and it’s not a Biblically acceptable reaction. For Christ-followers, getting even might be our professional or even personal desire but it is not glorifying to the Lord.
You’ve lost your job. It’s hard. In anger and frustration you begin to think it’s all the fault of that person who fired you. Or maybe there’s been a relationship failure and hurtful things were said. It can even happen when people within the very family of God wrong you in some way. You’re so angry you could… What? Get even?
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Ephesians 4:31 (New Living Translation)
Wanting to “get even” is a natural reaction to feeling wronged. How many times have we read tragic headlines about people who, in their rage at perceived wrongs, have gone into their school, home or workplace and hurt family members, friends, co-workers, and even themselves?
But taking matters into our own hands and taking action to punish people who we think have “done us wrong” leads to the most fleeting satisfaction and the most lasting repercussions. The list mentioned in Ephesians 4 contains words that many of us struggle with every day. Words like bitterness, anger, rage, and harsh words are all too familiar to those of us going through personal trials.
Our enemy, the devil, prompts us to take action. He whispers, “Revenge is sweet” into our ears and we believe him, just as Eve believed him in the garden. Remember in John 8:44, the devil is called the “Father of Lies.”
A good example of the consequences of “getting even” is found in the book of Esther. Because of a slight to Haman’s ego, Esther 3:5 says that Haman was, “filled with rage.” Life was good for Haman but he couldn’t appreciate it because of his rage at Mordecai (Esther 5:11,12). Because of that overpowering anger, Haman planned to get even, not only with Mordecai personally but with his entire race. But it backfired as most attempts at vengeance do. And God allowed his scheme of vengeance to boomerang.
But when it came to the king’s attention, he commanded by letter that his [Haman’s] wicked scheme which he had devised against the Jews, should return on his own head and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. Esther 9:25 (NASB)
God clearly commands us to “get rid of bitterness, anger, and rage.” He also commands us to “never take revenge.” We read these commands and ask ourselves, “Okay, but how do I release my rage and bitterness?” And, “How do I leave the vengeance to God?”
First we need to recognize our feelings for what they are… sin. Then, we need to admit those emotions to God. That’s what the word “confess” means. We “agree” with God that those feelings are wrong but admit we have them and we need His help. 1 John 1:9 makes it clear that when we admit or confess our sins He is faithful to forgive and cleanse us of them.
The only way you can set aside your anger, rage, bitterness and plans of vengeance is with God’s help. He is ready to help you right now.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NLT)
Proverbs 14:17 (NLT) says, “Short-tempered people do foolish things, and schemers are hated.” Then in 14:29 it continues, “People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.”
Now ask yourself if you are about to do a foolish thing or launch a scheme that will only lead to an action displeasing to God. Then, read 1 John 1:9 and tell God about what you’re thinking.
Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 (NLT)
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. James 1:19-20 (NLT)
Now THAT is a plan! Have Peace, Trust God… He is fully capable of balancing the books and blessing you for your resolve to lay aside your hurt and please Him.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19 (NASB)
Think about it…