Read Proverbs 24:29
Do not say,”I will do to others as they have done to me;
I will pay them back for what they have done.” (NRSV)
We have sometimes seen tearful and angry people interviewed outside a courtroom. They have just witnessed the sentencing of someone who has hurt or even killed someone they loved. Their words may be full of revenge,hoping the person suffers greatly,wishing that person dead,vowing never to let that explosive hatred towards them go away.
Anyone with human sensitivity will understand and even sympathise with this sort of outburst. But this doesn’t mean we go along with the sentiments. As this proverb reminds us,wishing people ill,seeking to get back at them,plotting revenge is not the right response even if it is a natural response.
Let the civil authorities do justice. Let God work out his own justice. As for us,seeking revenge is merely hurting ourselves. Our vengeful words don’t wound the other person as much as they corrode and poison us. By maintaining our rage against the perpetrator we are in fact allowing them to shape our lives. We are keeping them at centre stage.
True,we cannot ever forget the wrongs done against us,but we can at least cease to plot about how we can do a wrong in return. Such revenge seeking is simply perpetuating a destructive cycle of wrong and counter-wrong. We may lick our lips at the prospect of getting even,but the revenge we take has a bitter aftertaste.
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