When Your Heart Desires Revenge
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:17-21
This passage was written by Paul around 56 A.D., however David learned this lesson first hand hundreds of years prior (1 Samuel 24). King Saul was on the hunt to find and kill David, having already made a few failed attempts. Slipping through Saul’s fingers, David and his men retreated to a cave.
In his pursuit, Saul had to stop to relieve himself. Of all the caves to go inside, Saul walked alone into the same cave David and his men were hiding.
David’s men were convinced this was an opportunity from God for David to kill his enemy, Saul. Perhaps David felt the temptation for revenge—David had done nothing wrong; he had only served the king faithfully. Yet the king had thrown spears at his head and made David run for his life. How easy would it be to get revenge!
But that’s not what David did. David knew that Saul was still God’s anointed king, and so God would be the One to remove Saul from power. David trusted God with his fears and his enemy.
After Saul left the cave, David ran out and fell in reverence before him. David showed Saul kindness. David revealed a piece of Saul’s clothing he had cut off to prove that although he had the opportunity to take Saul’s life, he chose not to. Rather than overcoming Saul’s evil with further evil, David overcame Saul’s evil with good.
Friend, will you do the same? When others wrong you, when the pain is great and your heart is aching, will you choose to trust God and show kindness even still?
Dear God, thank You for forgiving me of my sins. Though I deserved Your wrath for my disobedience and rebellion, You showed me grace. Thank You for Your forgiveness. Please help me to show the same grace to those who hurt me. When I am tempted to seek revenge, help me to trust You. Please give me the strength and the grace to show them kindness rather than anger.
Is there a bitterness in your heart toward someone who has hurt you? Does this idea of putting off revenge and showing kindness feel impossible? Preach the Gospel to yourself. Remember the amazing grace that you were shown on the day you believed. Remember the forgiveness you are shown each time you disobey God. Remember the great debt you owed God and the mercy He showed you. Don’t be like the forgiven debtor who could not forgive his fellow servant of a lesser debt (Matthew 18:21-35). Let your heart be softened by the Gospel.