It’s best not served at all

Published 10:35 pm Monday, April 30, 2018

By Nathan Rice

I was monitoring a group of boys playing in a gym when I noticed Jacob walking indignantly towards me. “Mikey hit me,” he said. I noticed Mikey sitting on the floor with a look of anger and guilt on his face. Jacob shared his account of what happened, and I assured him I would speak with Mikey right away. I headed towards Mikey, but Jacob ran past me. He reared back his leg and promptly landed a kick to the bottom of Mikey’s foot. I now had two boys in trouble instead of one.

Adults may chuckle at this childhood interaction, but the sad truth is that adults often act in the same manner. The desire for revenge can be strong, and we are great at making ourselves feel justified in getting back at anyone who has hurt us. There are several things we should stop to think about, however, when we feel the desire to take revenge.

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First is the fact that that doing things to get even with those who hurt us only tends to escalate the situation. I am sure we have all seen situations that have gotten worse because neither party is willing to be the one to step back.

Next, we should carefully examine our actions and what they say about us. We often allow the actions of others to dictate how we act, and we end up saying or doing things that we normally wouldn’t do. Convincing ourselves that the other person deserves it, we say or do things that we would typically admit are wrong. This self-convinced justification, however, does not make improper actions on our part acceptable.

In some instances, it can even get us into trouble. In the example above, Jacob ended up sitting out of some games at the gym. There are consequences for striking another child, and Jacob now had to pay that consequence. Rather than playing games with the rest of the group, he was sitting out with Mikey.

This story runs much deeper for me. I know as a follower of Christ that I must heed the words of my Savior. Jesus commanded that I love my enemies and to do good things to those who spitefully use me. It’s not an easy command to follow, but it must be obeyed.

As Jacob ran in front of me to seek his revenge on Mikey I learned that I should never run ahead of God. I was walking towards Mikey, and there would have been an appropriate punishment distributed once I completed my investigation. God is a just judge who knows and sees all. He will judge each person and has told us that vengeance is His alone to take.

Not taking revenge doesn’t mean that we haven’t been hurt. It’s not saying that someone hasn’t done something wrong to us, and it’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a declaration that we won’t allow others to cause us to do something wrong ourselves. It’s a display of strength, showing that we refuse to continue the cycle of hurt and pain. For followers of Christ, it’s a sign that we trust the Lord to be the judge. The desire for revenge can be strong, but it can also be overcome. The choice is ours.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.