Revenge or Bust!
“The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled (plundered) the city, because they had defiled their sister. They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field, And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled (plundered) even all that was in the house. And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house(hold).”
Genesis 34: 27-30
I grew up with a sister who was six years my senior, and we got into plenty of dust-ups. She was bigger and smarter than me, but it never stopped me from pursuing trouble with her even when the odds were not in my favor. I never much worried about the odds as my eyes were bent on revenge and getting even with my sister. I would like to say this mantra was limited to my sister, but I applied this to all aspects of my life.
I know this may be hard to believe, but I was a small and skinny kid. I would say there was not a whole lot to me, but I had the heart of a much bigger person. I hated to see kids get bullied, and I definitely did not like it when it happened to me. I often stood up to those who tried to bully me and others, and I let my little fists get to work. I would like to say I went undefeated in these matches, but I took my fair share of lumps and bruises. My heart would fill up with anger and I simply didn’t think about consequences, just about getting even. It was as if I was a bull and there was a matador waving a red cape in front of me. I would tap into the rage tree and would not tap out until my vengeful desires were satisfied.
I will say I never won anyone to Christ this way, and the anger and rage may have erased precious years off of my young heart. I did not subscribe to the biblical way of handling these matters, and this often get me in trouble. The last time I fought in school, they applied the "board of correction" to the "seat of my understanding". Even in times when justice may have been warranted, it was never my place to administer it. I often learned things the hard way because I did not apply God’s wisdom to my life.
It has been said that revenge is sweet joy. I lived by this thinking for much of my life, and I tried not to get taken advantage of without making someone pay for doing so. Romans 12:19 states, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” I did not apply this verse to my life, and I may have skipped over it while memorizing verses in AWANA. I sought my own way and my own justice. I had no tolerance for those who sought to get one over on me, and for those who did, I did all I could to even the score. I think of our Lord and Savior who was ridiculed, punched, beaten, and spit upon, yet He did not say a word. He was humble and always obedient to the will of the Father.
In this passage, we find the sons of Jacob take matters in their own hands after their sister was raped. I can understand the anger they felt, but they brought dishonor to their father and more importantly, their Heavenly Father. The blood they shed was far beyond the justice they sought, and we never are pleasing to God when we take matters into our own hands. God is the only true and just God, and we must submit our fiery will to His. Romans 12:21 states, “Be not overcome of (by) evil, but overcome evil with good.” We make things “stink” when we take matters into our own hands and seek our own justice.
What about you? Do you have beef with a brother or sister in Christ? Do you have conflict with your neighbor or spouse? How about that person you work with or a family member? Do you find yourself daydreaming of how you will seek revenge, or have you already taken steps in the revenge department? Do you pray for that person or do you prey upon them? May we look at the example of our Lord and Savior who allowed men He created to rip out His beard and mock Him. He did not strike these people with a lighting bolt, but yet He stretched out His arms and died for them. The opposite of getting even is forgiving those who sin against you, even when they don’t ask for forgiveness. Luke 6:28 states, “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” Will you curse or will you forgive? May God help us to love others, and may we leave vengeance to the Lord.
Stay in the fight!