Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

Keep One Another from Revenge

by Dick Wulf | Course Three

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Christians are to prevent acts of revenge by other Christians. We need to monitor the resolution of conflict and follow up to see that there are no leftover hard feelings. We are to let God be the avenger.

Just as judging is God’s prerogative and not ours, revenge is also God’s exclusive right. Romans 12:17- 19 instructs us, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 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.” God said that last part in the Old Testament of the Bible. It is Deut 32:35.

The overall principle is stated just two verses later in Rom 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” I repeat: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Revenge is not love, so it does not belong in a Christian’s behavior. We are to respond to being hurt without revenge. And this is not always easy, so we need one another’s help.

When thoughts of revenge exist, the closeness in Christian friendships, Christian families and Christian marriages will reveal anger and resentment which could lead to revenge. It is the responsibility of Christian Inner Circles to check out how people are handling their anger and sense of injustice. They can then help resolve feelings before acts of revenge are committed. Since revenge can be subtle, it is probably only in these close relationships that it can be headed off.

Letting go of anger is not an easy thing for some people to do. But with the encouragement, counsel and admonition of Christian friends, family and spouse – it can be done. Those with close Christian relationships plus other things to live for can more easily forget the injustices they have experienced.

We live in a world where sin exists. So, we will be hurt. But, for us, nothing is fatal. Free from all fears, especially the fear of death, we are free to not avenge ourselves. Revenge has nothing to offer us. We can help one another obey the instruction of 1 Thess 5:15 which says, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.”

However, evil will be avenged – just not by us. No one will get away with anything, but revenge is none of our business. It is God’s.

Perhaps this story will get us thinking about this.

Late one night in the inner city, Harvey was robbed at gunpoint. He did not act scared because he knew paradise awaited if anything went wrong. He did not try to protect himself because he knew the Lord was fully capable of doing that. He was not worried about losing the money and his expensive watch because he knew God was rich and could replace them if God wanted to.

Therefore, Harvey acted friendly, complimenting the robber on his shoes and asking if he had a family to support as he emptied his wallet and handed over valuables. He even asked if the robber wanted to talk about anything. Perhaps he could offer some advice for a better life.
Afterward, Harvey was not angry at the robber, but hated the sin of poverty and drug addiction that seemed to be the cause of the robber’s illegal behavior. He reported the crime calmly with as much detail as he could so that the robber could be caught and helped as well as others kept from being robbed. He did not even think about revenge, because he knew that revenge was God’s decision. But, because God’s wrath was a possibility, he urgently prayed for the robber’s salvation and forgiveness in Christ.

A few of Harvey’s Christian friends understood his not being threatened and lack of anger at the robber. But, Harvey’s non-Christian friends had lots of questions and were bowled over at Harvey’s explanations. In fact, it was such a strong witness to the reality of God that two of those friends became believers, something Harvey had wanted for years.
God felt worshiped because Harvey left the decision for God. He honored God’s right to revenge or not to revenge.

When someone wrongs us, we are to take action. First, we must leave revenge to God. Then we can decide what else needs to be done. Forgiveness, as Jesus forgave those nailing Him to the cross, is called for. Perhaps love would dictate additional action.

The tough situations are when someone has killed or irreparably injured someone we love and we want revenge so much. This would be a serious challenge to anyone’s faith and understanding of the ways of God. Of course, the Lord will take revenge, but how are we to think about the situation so that we do not take revenge?

Not taking revenge can be made easier if we understand what the phrase, “leave room for God’s wrath” in Romans 12 probably means. God wants to avenge evil, but if we do, does it mean that God will back off? That seems to be what is implied. I don’t think we would want to lessen God’s wrath on someone who killed or irreparably injured someone important to us. God’s wrath is certainly more than we can match with our own revenge.

Resisting revenge has its roots in being totally secure in the Lord. He will take care of us. And, He will avenge.

In heaven there will be no need for revenge. But, turning aside from revenge now when it is sometimes tempting will have many benefits.

How much more wonderful heaven will seem to those of us who had a little more time to practice seeing God’s goodness in life because we did not spend any time thinking of revenge or moaning and groaning like victims.

There is heavenly benefit in letting God have His rightful monopoly on vengeance, because in doing so we accept God for Who He is and embrace who we are not. He is the Judge, we are not. While in heaven everyone will let God be God because of the absence of sin, some of us will enjoy Who He is more because we honored Him as the Judge and left revenge for Him.
Then there is the benefit in heaven of joy in blessing others. Returning evil with blessing rather than revenge will increase our ability to bless others in heaven. Everyone will be able to bless, but some will naturally do it – and enjoy it more.

Here on earth in the midst of a sinful culture our spirits can develop the ability to find joy in blessing others. Other Togethers will help us grow, but none of them will have us blessing others with such difficulty as blessing instead of revenging. So, to keep one another from revenge will cap off our ability to bless others in heaven with extra strength because it was developed by the very difficult accomplishment of not taking revenge. We will carry to heaven the strength to bless others in most difficult ways because trading revenge for blessing will have been a strenuous test.

Also, the difficulty now of not taking revenge will give our spirits more strength in doing difficult tasks in heaven. It will qualify us for heavenly tasks that can only go to those strongest in facing and conquering tough assignments.
Another benefit in heaven: resisting temptation to take revenge can be powered by staying focused only on what God wants us to be doing. Those who take this step in their resistance to revenge will be more likely to notice what God is doing around them in heaven. There will be no problem staying on task in heaven, as there will be no sin and evil there. However, it will be nice to be able to focus more exclusively on God because we are more practiced in doing so when we get to heaven.

Any time wasted considering revenge will be time when the mind was not at peace and, therefore, unable to see God’s wonders all around. So, along with this benefit from other Togethers, the mind that is peaceful because of the absence of vengeful thoughts will have increased “practice time” of looking around with wonder. How wonderful will heaven be? Well, that depends on how much and how often we possessed peace of mind before death – and noticed God’s wonders.

Here’s another story of mine. It takes place in heaven.

Four of us were summoned by an angel this morning. We are now being led somewhere in one of the remote forests of heaven. We round a bend and there sitting on a huge boulder is Jesus.
He says to us, “Come. I have a new wonder to show you! You were chosen for this private presentation because of your level of wonder before death even though you could have gotten sidetracked by resentments. All four of you were hurt continually and taken advantage of because you were such kind and generous people. Yet you all stayed focused, not on your hurt and not on vengeance, but on all the wonderful things God was doing all around you. So, I know that you four will really appreciate this new wonder I have just created.” Then, Jesus asks with a grin, “Want to guess what I am about to show you?”

Isn’t it possible that Jesus might show more new wonders in heaven to those who have the skill and desire to see them?

Then there will be the ability to joyfully greet people in heaven who hurt us deeply back on earth before we died. Running into the old business partner, for example, who betrayed and embezzled, our mind would not have to shut off if we had let go of revenge and had a heart ready to bless back. Since there is no sin in heaven, whenever we lack the spiritual quality necessary for a deeper righteous response, our minds will have to go blank because we will be unable to sin. We won’t be able to do right and we won’t be able to do wrong, so we will likely have to be in a spiritual “time out”, in other words, some sort of daze. While we won’t be miserable running into someone for whom we never escaped vengeful desires, we won’t be able to enjoy it either.

God’s response to us will take into account how we dealt with the temptation to take revenge and if we kept those in our Christian Inner Circles from revenge. However, He most likely does not appreciate it when we take over responsibilities that are wholly His and He has not delegated them to us. Revenge falls right in there with judging as His exclusive right. So, it just seems obvious that God in Heaven will not be as close in relationship to those who usurp His restrictive jurisdiction of vengeance. But, He will definitely appreciate those of us who did not take revenge.