22nd November 2012

Vengeance Is Mine

“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
Romans 12:19 (NKJV)

Have you ever been treated in a really rotten way?  Has someone been exceedingly unkind, even nasty, toward you?  How does it make you feel?  And more importantly what does it make you feel like doing?  The answer to that question is possibly the wrong answer!

Our heading scripture provides the right answer. God gets very close to our worst nature when he asks us to behave like this. It doesn’t seem just that someone should get away with despicable behaviour, especially when it expressed toward us.  But this is the key to this request.  God doesn’t say the other party will get away with it, indeed he says they won’t!  He says I will repay, that vengeance belongs to him.

The apostle Paul recognised this same truth when writing to the churches in Galatia.  He says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)  What Paul would have us understand is that the offending party is actually hurting themselves by their words and/or actions.  Just a little earlier in this letter he encourages the right response, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness…Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2)

It is quite clear that anyone who behaves in this offensive way is not spiritual, is not being led by the Spirit of God and is not walking as a Christian should walk, which is why the encouragement is to RESTORE such a one in a spirit of gentleness.

This brings to mind the words of our Lord Jesus when addressing his disciples on the mount, “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” (Matthew 5:43-44)

This is not going to be easy, but with God’s help and a prayerful attitude it is something that we can do.

Prayer
Father in heaven, thank you for your instructions in how to live together in peace and harmony. Thank you also for the help that you will give us to do the right things that will enable us to live together as your children even in the face of those who through weakness would seek to wreck that  oneness and unity.
Amen

Study by David Stirk

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