Tips for Life
by Alan Bailey
Acts of retribution are often far beyond what is fitting
Right now there are a lot of people hell-bent on getting even. A wrong has been done to them and they won’t rest until there is some pay-back.
Revenge can become serious, with fists, stones and even bombs flying. People can get badly hurt or killed — and unfortunately we seem to hear about it almost every day.
Reasons for hostility
As we know, anger and hate are common all around us. Those who are upset believe they have good reason to be. Husbands and wives argue and separate. Children and parents violently disagree. A financial deal turns out to be a swindle. A man suddenly gets the sack. A neighbour is offended.
Many and varied are the reasons for festering dislike.
The old saying that counting to ten helps to cool your anger has some truth in it, but there is the other side too. Time can make anger grow rather than cool.
We all tend to brood over wrongs done to us, just like a hen warming her eggs. And brooding often hatches hate and a plan to get even. It seems like a human instinct to pay others back for what they have done to us. In some cultures it is a whole way of life.
So we see inter-tribal war, fathers even killing their children to get revenge on an estranged wife, others running wild with a shot-gun.
These are tragic consequences that can never be reversed.
But does it work?
The aim of revenge is to get even or to punish the other party. In all the heat and emotion caused by conflict, reasonableness and justice often suffer badly. Tragically, injury is done far beyond what is fitting, sometimes with lifetime effects.
Furthermore, the person handing out the revenge is seldom happy with the result. His own woes grow, his inward struggles escalate. Peace has moved even further away.
It seems imperative to us that we take justice into our own hands. We are convinced that it simply won’t be done in any other way. But justice can only be handed out by a person totally impartial to the offence and possessed by a pure sense of what is right and fair. We do our best in the legal system of our land, but even that is obviously imperfect.
If you are offended and sore, look for reconciliation first. Commit your case into God’s care and consider talking it over with a counsellor.
Only God can administer justice perfectly. He says ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay’ (Deuteronomy chapter 32, verse 35). When He does judge mankind it will be personal, thorough and fair.
Surely this must make us all alert to what is coming. To prepare, it is best not to have any enemies, not to commit violent acts. By nature, we are all seriously out of sorts with God Himself.
Thankfully, a way to peace has been made open to us all through the cross, when Jesus took our penalty for us. We must deliberately turn away from our sin, turning to the one who can save us.
God is a forgiving God. Are we forgiving men and women?