By Allen White
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
Wounds that other people inflict on us, and vice versa, don’t have much impact on the inflictor. Wounds tend to only affect the wounded. The remedy is forgiveness, not revenge. In fact, Jesus tells is that unforgiveness makes us emotional prisoners (Matthew 18:34-35). Our pain is magnified by unforgiveness, but the inflictor goes unharmed.
Wrath is too hot for human hands. Resentment and revenge can eat a person alive. Their thoughts are immersed in hatred. Their anger burns white hot. Some even obsess over how to get someone back, even over the smallest slight. While it’s normal to have feelings of anger, hurt and even betrayal, wrath and vengeance only belong to God. In fact, wrath is part of God’s love.
The opposite of love is not really hate. If you hate someone, you still have a concern for them. You still have skin in the game. The opposite of love is indifference – they just don’t matter. God’s wrath is not opposed to His love. When many people feel the heat of God’s wrath, they turn to Him rather than burn. In this life, repentance is the reason for God’s wrath.
God’s wrath will be delivered at the right time. If wrath were left to us, it would be both immediate and severe. God knows every choice that a person will make without causing them to make that choice. He is all-knowing or omniscient. God’s heart is always toward reconciliation. God will give a second, and a third, and a 1296th chance for someone to turn to Him. This doesn’t justify the wounds that someone has inflicted on us. But, without Christ, we would also lack the justification necessary to be saved (Romans 5:9).
The Bible tells us that when we leave these bodies, we will enter into God’s Presence (2 Corinthians 5:8). “People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). As long as people have breath in their bodies, there is another chance. But, once they slip from this life into the next, there’s no turning back.
When we get hurt, we are very quick to pronounce judgment—both final and severe. Our pain results in a mixture of wrath that is both too much and too soon. This is why Scripture warns us against judging others (Romans 2:1). We don’t have all of the information. We don’t know their thoughts and motives. It may be that they didn’t mean anything by it at all. It may mean that they’ve never abandoned their immature ways of handling things. They are a work in progress just like us.
Who has incurred your wrath? What affect is revenge and resentment having on you? How is it affecting your relationship with God? The Bible tells us, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Romans 12:14). If that verse is easier said than done, then read it out loud to God and ask Him what you’re supposed to do about it.