AVENGE NOT YOURSELVES
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Romans 12:19
This verse is part of an extremely helpful portion of Scripture, which includes instruction for the treatment of others. What are we to do when we are mistreated? Does God have anything to say about such things? The Bible is such a practical Book, and here, it gives advice concerning this very matter. The first bit of counsel is to “avenge not yourselves.” The word “avenge” means “to retaliate, vindicate or punish.” There will be times when people will treat us unfairly. Even professing Christians will sometimes act as cruelly as those who do not claim to know the Lord. Remember this – our Lord was lied about, misrepresented, and treated wickedly. What if someone is vindictive toward you or slanders you? What if we are lied about? We should not attempt to get back at others. One of the worst things we could do is to seek revenge.
Our text goes on to tell us to “give place unto wrath.” Rather than seeking to show wrath, we are to “give place unto wrath.” Instead of trying to punish or retaliate against those who have been malicious, we are to leave it in God’s hands. Paul goes on to quote from the Old Testament, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Vengeance belongs to the Lord. It is never our place to try to even the score with others. Rather, we are to forgive those who wrong us and leave it to God to justly deal with them. Instead of seeking to avenge evil with evil, we are to overcome evil with good. For one thing, we are not qualified to deal with those who have acted disorderly. There are too many unseen factors. We may at times misjudge someone’s actions or reactions, only to find out later that we were not just in our assessment. Only God knows all the reasons why people act as they do, or what information they were acting on. He alone knows what retribution or judgment is appropriate.
We can be confident, whatever the situation, that God will do what is proper and right for the situation. Every deed will be properly rewarded at the proper time. We do not have to concern ourselves if someone “got away with it.” Our responsibility is to leave it in God’s hands and harbor no malice or bitterness. By faith, we are to trust the Lord to appropriately deal with these matters.