While I rejoice about what I am in Christ, and take no credit for it, I am ashamed of what I am by nature and I take all the blame for it. You’ve heard of “Dirty Harry”? Well sometimes I feel like “Dirty Dave”. In other words, by nature I want to “get even”, “make the guilty pay”, exact revenge. Were it the “old days”, without Christ, I fear I would have been a vigilante. I’m not proud of that. I know it’s wrong. I’m just being honest. I am weak in this area and have to be on guard constantly.
I tend to get terriblily upset when I see innocent people mistreated. I am troubled even more when I feel I am the “innocent” party. I can’t stand bullies, yet as a teen that’s exactly what I was. Now, I never want to hurt people again–oops, except maybe those who hurt others, those who are unfair or unjust. So, as you can see, I still have a tendency to do wrong. Chances are, many of you have the same problem. And it’s a problem strictly forbidden by God’s Word. Please read those verses and ask yourself the question “Is that what I’m doing”. Or, do I want to make the guilty pay?
When we have this attitude it consumes us and drives us and colors our thinking regarding everything in life. All we can think about is revenge, and we might go about getting it in several ways– physical abuse, verbal abuse, condemning them, making demands on them, nagging at them, pouting, ignoring them, withholding needs, refusing to grant desires –in general, we just want to make life miserable for them. Read that list again and think about your attitude and consider the fact that you have no right to do what you’re doing. The following article by Dr. Paul Chappell sheds a lot of light on our subject:
George Atley was killed while serving with the Central African Mission. There were no witnesses, but the evidence indicates that Atley was confronted by a band of hostile tribesmen. He was carrying a fully loaded, 10-chamber Winchester rifle and had to choose either to shoot his attackers and run the risk of negating the work of the mission in that area, or not to defend himself and be killed. When his body was later found in a stream, it was evident that he had chosen the latter. Nearby lay his rifle-all ten chambers still loaded. He had made the supreme sacrifice, motivated by his burden for lost souls and his unswerving devotion to his Saviour.
What justice is there in the death of the innocent? What justice is there in good people with good intentions being persecuted or killed? Why is recompense or revenge not exacted on those evil workers in this world who would take the lives of others? Stories of innocent people dying at the hand of wicked people can stir anger in our hearts, yet as Paul taught the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians, God’s judgement is far greater than any we could exact.
Paul continues his letter in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 with the following comfort to the persecuted church, “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.” The word recompense Paul uses speaks of the judgement God will bring upon those who harm His children.
God knows what happens in your life. He sees the injustices, the hurt, and the pain. Don’t think that God is so great that He does not notice the small acts in your life. But just as God sees injustices, He calls you to ignore them, even forgive them.
Yours is not the place to exact judgement. That job belongs to God, and rightly so for He can exact judgement better than we ever could. Yet rather than worrying, stressing, plotting and planning, God calls you to rest, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.”
When persecuted, rest. When unjustly treated, rest. When hated and despised, rest. Realize that seeking revenge hurts no one but yourself, and claim God’s promise of rest to those who trust His judgement.
Consider the words of preacher C.H. Spurgeon on the subject of persecution, “The good man has his enemies. He would not be like his Lord if he had not. If we were without enemies we might fear that we were not the friends of God, for the friendship of the world is enmity to God.”
Following God will bring persecution, yet God offers rest to those who walk with Him. Rather than pursuing revenge, enjoy the rest of God, knowing that His judgement will be exacted on evildoers in His time.
Think about it like this–the coming of Jesus will bring retribution to the adversaries, but it brings “rest” (relief, refreshment, and restoration) to the afflicted. In that assurance we can rest, rather than taking matters into our own hands and making matters worse. His coming will make all the wrongs right. Rest your weary soul on that precious promise.Think about it!