Revenge and Retaliation

Read Matthew 5:38-42

“Don’t get mad . . . get even.”

We’ve all heard this saying, perhaps even said to someone or used it ourselves in a given situation.

Someone cuts you off; you speed up and cut them off. Someone makes a rude comment to you at work, so you make a rude comment back. Someone hurts you; you want to hurt them back. Someone’s taken something from you, you want to take it right back. It is only natural that when you’ve been wronged, you want to wrong that person back.

In the end, when we take revenge or try and retaliate, there is no winner. Both sides end up hurt. Or as my mother would say, “two wrongs don’t make a right”.

When we live according to our flesh and our human understanding, of course it’s only natural to retaliate. But living Christ-like is supernatural. Living according to Christ’s standards goes beyond “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”; it’s willingly giving up what is yours, even if it’s wrongfully taken.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says in his book “The Cost of Discipleship”, “By willing endurance we cause suffering to pass. Evil becomes a spent force when we put up no resistance. By refusing to pay back the enemy in his own coin, and by preferring to suffer without resistance, the Christian exhibits the sinfulness of contumely and insult. Violence stands condemned by its failure to evoke counter-violence. When a man unjustly demands that I should give him my coat, I offer him my cloak also, and so counter his demand; when he requires me to go the other mile, I go willingly, and show up his exploitation of my service for what it is. To leave everything behind at the call of Christ is to be content with him alone, and to follow only him.”

In other words, as Christ followers we don’t need to need take matters into our own hands. We don’t worry about being wronged and trying to make it right. Revenge is not ours; retaliation has no place in the life of a believer. We leave that to God.

If we have truly been forgiven of all of our wrongdoing, if our Creator God is not demanding that we repay all that we’ve done wrong against Him, than we are to reflect that toward others. How can we willingly embrace God wiping our slate clean, and then turn around to our brother and retaliate?

Our posture as Christians is not “eye for an eye”, it’s denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Him.

  1. Read Romans 12:19-21. What are Paul’s instructions for us regarding revenge?
  1. How do you respond when someone has wronged you? What are some ways you can grow to respond more like Jesus?
  1. Write about a situation you need to surrender to the LORD and trust Him to make right.

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