There are those inevitable times in life when others hurt us, sin against us and maybe even destroy parts of our lives that we hold dear.
The world says, “I’m going to get even. I’m going to make you pay! You hurt me, now I am going to hurt you more.”
I think of this issue every time I hear the Carrie Underwood song, “Before He Cheats” – which I hear at work on the radio often. The song is about a woman whose man is cheating on her. She talks about how the guy and his new flame are in a bar and she speculates about what they are doing. Meanwhile, she keys his car, slashes the tires, cuts up the leather seats, smashes the windows and headlights and walks away very satisfied with herself that she taught him a lesson and that she is “might have saved a little trouble for the next girl.”
Let’s look at a few things if this were a real life situation:
- when a guy really cheats on a girl, that is wrong! (just like it is wrong for a girl to cheat on her guy)
- destroying someone’s property is also wrong – in fact, taking revenge is sin.
It is disturbing to me – the way that the woman in the song glorifies taking revenge on her man who was cheating on her. That is definitely a very worldly approach, not a godly approach. Just a little heart check – if this song were about a man doing this stuff to a woman’s car – would we look at it the same way?
This path of revenge and hatred leads to other sins, too, like physical injury or even murder sometimes. Sin leads to more sin.
What good could come from a woman in this situation taking revenge herself? The ex-boyfriend/husband would probably take revenge on her destroying his car, too. Then she’d have to “repay him” for that… the path of revenge leads to death and destruction. Not to mention – in real life a woman who does something like this could end up in jail or – at the very least – she would have legal charges against her.
No one repents because someone took revenge on them.
ACCOUNTABILITY TO GOD
We will each stand accountable to God for what WE do ourselves. Someone sinning against me does not justify me sinning against them in God’s sight.
Gary Thomas, “Sacred Marriage,” says “We are most tempted to sin when we are sinned against.” So true! But it is our responsibility as believers in Christ to follow the example of Jesus. How did He respond when He was sinned against?
Ultimately – people will either face God’s wrath for every sin – God is a God of justice, after all. He will not ignore sin. (According to the Bible – our sins separate us from the One, True, Holy God of the universe. We all deserve to be separated from God forever. But God loved us so much, He was willing to make a way for us to come to Him.) Or, they will find forgiveness for their sin and mercy and grace at the cross of Jesus. It is my prayer that everyone will accept Jesus’ gift of paying for our sin so that we can have a relationship with God now and also in heaven with Him forever. We need His mercy so desperately!
We may have to confront sin. (Matthew 7:1-5 and Matthew 18:15-17)
We may have to say, “What you have done has hurt me so much, I can’t date you anymore. This is a deal-breaker.”
But even in our pain, we can respond without retaliation. And we can still respond in the power of God’s Spirit so that we are speaking the truth in love – seeking the ultimate best for that person in God’s eyes and speaking with respect. We may cry and feel angry and hurt. We may say, “I am so angry that you did this!”
We may not be able to trust that person again. Or, we may decide we want to re-establish trust. But it will take time to rebuild broken trust.
Then – whether the person repents or not – Christ commands us to forgive others. It is not about them. It is about us and God. Unforgiveness is toxic poison to us and to our intimacy with Christ.
14For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
WHAT DOES GOD’S WORD SAY ABOUT TAKING REVENGE?
What leads people to repentance is the kindness, mercy, grace and forgiveness of God in our lives. We may need to break up with the guy if he cheats on us (particularly if we are not married yet) – but we can still conduct ourselves with respect and honor in the sight of God. Yes, we will hurt. Yes we will cry. Yes, there will be pain. We can take that to God. We can find healing and shelter under His wings.
How can we live out Romans 12 and Luke 6 when we are wronged?
Let’s leave room for God’s wrath and His vengeance. God CLEARLY says it is NOT our place to “get even” or to “pay someone back” or to take revenge ourselves. If – by God’s power – we can respond to evil with good and if we respond to sin without sin – THAT will get people’s attention and draw them to Christ. Our purpose on this planet is to glorify and honor God.
Let’s talk about that!
If you have a situation where you wish you could take revenge – let’s talk about godly ways you could respond instead.
If you have seen someone respond in a godly way when they were severely sinned against – let’s discuss that, too, and talk about what God did in those situations.
17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do 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,”d says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”e
21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Love does no harm to its neighbor.
I John 4:20
If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
I John 3:14-15
Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
27“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
39He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
41“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
A Tree and Its Fruit
43“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
The Wise and Foolish Builders
46“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.48They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.49But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”