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Revenge – the desire to get even, to make our own justice, to ensure that right is done – is often seen as a good way to live. Many films are based on this premise and are entertaining and often thought-provoking in how they portray this. It comes as a shock, therefore, to find Jesus urging us to trust in God’s ability to resolve situations rather than our own. His command to love our enemies and to seek God’s blessings for them (see Matt 5:43-48), to forgive those who sin against us (Matt 6:12, 14-15), coupled with the command not to repay anyone evil for evil (see Rom 12:17-21), all go against our cultural and personal desire to vindicate ourselves and sort justice out.
To eschew revenge does not mean that we don’t care about justice or that we are condoning evil. It does not mean we are doormats who can be walked on without fighting for right. It does mean, however, that we live in such a way that we reflect God’s nature and trust Him to wrong the rights. So often, our need for revenge is tied to our need to be validated, to prove that we are right and that we matter. If we are secure in our relationship with God, we can endure misunderstanding and great injustice because we know that God is fighting for us, ‘and if God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Rom 8:31) We can be confident that the Judge of all the earth will do right (Gen 18:25) and therefore we can trust in Him to sort out the present mess. This may take far longer than we like, but we follow the example of one who suffered the ultimate injustice of crucifixion and saw vindication beyond anything we could imagine (see Is 53:9-12, 1 Pet 2:18-25).