It is a very natural instinct in a human being to retaliate when we are hurt, and the temptation to exact vengeance can be tough to resist. It might be a good idea at such times to pause and reflect upon something that the apostle Peter said: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
God wants to bless us. Every single reflection in this “Lessons in the Wilderness” series has tried to highlight this fact, but we can often be the biggest obstacle to receiving the blessings that God wants to pour out on us. When we repay evil with evil, we effectively act like children of the enemy because evil is in his nature, not in God’s. To receive God’s blessings, we have to act like his children, which means we show mercy and kindness, not hatred and viciousness. When people do us wrong, these are opportunities we receive to demonstrate how much we have understood God’s love.
“But what they are doing is wrong and unfair,” you say. For sure, it is! When people are malicious and do wicked things out of spite, when they slander us and taunt us, when they engage in dirty politics and prevent us from rising, when they try to cheat us out of what is rightfully ours, it is all very wrong, but let us leave the payback to God. Paul echoed Peter’s sentiment when he said, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil” (Romans 12:17), but then he went on to say, “Do 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,” says the Lord (Romans 12:19). So, let us trust the Lord to do what needs to be done.
However, Paul understood this “need” for vengeance, so he suggested a method that gives us a measure of satisfaction while not being displeasing to God. What is the method? Do good to your enemy! “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.” Do you see the logic in this? What better form of revenge is there?
So, my dear friend, the next time someone hurts you, do not retaliate in anger. If you cannot react in kindness at that particular moment, remain silent and walk away. Silence is not agreement, and walking away is not cowardice. Both take tremendous strength of character, but God is cheering you on. People might make the wrong inferences, but we don’t live to please them. We live to please God, who wants to shower us with more blessings than we will know what to do with. And the way to receive them is by repaying evil with good.