Why Is Revenge Only for the Lord to Take?

Christ said that for those who have wronged us, we should do good to them. We should not be trying to keep score. We should be offering forgiveness and love.

Contributing Writer
Updated Oct 26, 2021
Why Is Revenge Only for the Lord to Take?

Why is this such a difficult idea for Christians to do, let alone for the rest of the people in the world? This sounds so impossible for anyone to do, with all the constant cries for legal rights and lawsuits that are continually spreading.

Paul is stating that instead of us returning evil for evil or “getting even,” we are to let God manage it. Instead of giving the person that has wronged us what we think he or she deserves, we should befriend them. But how can we do this? By forgiveness.

Paul is stating in the last few verses of this chapter that:

1. Forgiveness might break a pattern of retribution and lead to shared compromise.

2. It might cause the adversary to feel embarrassed and alter his way of life.

3. Returning evil for evil damages us similarly in as much as it harms our foe. 

Regardless of whether our enemy never atones, forgiving him will liberate us from a weighty load of resentment.

Paul is writing that we should decline to deliver retribution since God is far better at it than we are. One might say that Paul infers that delivering our own retribution might weaken God's chance to retaliate for us in His anger against the people who hurt us.

Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 32:35, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them” to show that God has consistently proclaimed His aim to avenge the people who have been wronged by others.

A longing for justice for us and those we care about is right. Paul essentially wants us to believe in God's planning and ability to convey justice in His time and how He sees that it should be done.

How would we react to this thought? From one perspective, we may be worried that God will show leniency to the individuals who hurt us as opposed to giving them what they merit (i.e., Jonah’s reaction to God’s mercy on Nineveh). He shows extraordinary benevolence to us, why not them?

That is what God does, correct? Truly God executes justice for each wrongdoing, including our own. For those in Christ, God’s indignation was spilled out on Jesus on the cross. Christ suffered for those transgressions.

He encountered what we merited. The individuals who will not accept Jesus' death in their place for their sin will endure the repercussions for that transgression themselves forever.

Why Are We Called to Turn the Other Cheek?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:38-42).

This is probably one of the best rules we will discover in the Word of God, yet it is the most troublesome thing for God’s children to do. At the point when somebody hits us on one cheek, it is hard to forgive instead of lashing out.

There was a man who was hit on his cheek, and he got up and turned his cheek. This time the first man hit him so hard, that he knocked down the second man. Then the second man got up and beat the first man.

Someone had asked him, “Why on earth did you do that? You turned your cheek; for what reason did you not leave it at that?” The second man said, “Indeed, the Bible says to turn your cheek, and I just had another cheek to turn. The Lord did not instruct me from that point onward, so I did what I figured I should do.”

This is exactly what many of us do, we retaliate in one way or another. We find it hard not to “return the favor.” The moment we put the matter into our own hands and try to strike back even harder, we remove the problem from God’s hands.

Thereby, we are not walking in faith as we should be. God is telling us that we are to walk by faith in Him and let Him oversee the situation for us. He can definitely do a better job at it than we can.

Why Revenge Is Not Ours to Take

God’s motivation for this law was mercy. It was given to judges and said, essentially, “Make the discipline fit the wrongdoing.” It was not an aide for individual retribution (Exodus 21:23-25; Leviticus 24:19-20; Deuteronomy 19:21). These laws were given to restrict retaliation and help the court dispense discipline that was neither too severe nor excessively indulgent.

Certain individuals, notwithstanding, were utilizing this expression to legitimize their grudge against others. Individuals actually attempt to pardon their demonstrations of vengeance by saying, “I was doing to him how he dealt with me.”

Unfortunately, our first reaction when we are wronged is to get even. Christ said that for those who have wronged us, we should do good to them. We should not be trying to keep score. We should be offering forgiveness and love.

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:9-12).

In our fallen world, it is regularly okay to take down individuals verbally or to get back at them in the event that we feel hurt by them. Peter, recalling Jesus' instruction to turn the other cheek, urges readers to repay a wrong by petitioning and praying to God for the wrongdoers.

What Does This Mean?

In God’s Kingdom, vengeance is unsuitable conduct. So is offending an individual, regardless of how in a roundabout way it is performed. We are to transcend getting back at the individuals who hurt us. Instead of responding irately to these individuals, we are to petition God for them.

Maybe we will wonder whether or not we want God’s punishment on our persecutors. Regardless, I believe that God is telling us to trust in Him to deal with the retribution and justice for all who may hurt us as opposed to looking for it ourselves.

For further reading:

What Did God Mean When He Said ‘Vengeance Is Mine’?

What Does the Bible Say about Revenge?

What Does 'An Eye for an Eye' Mean?

Did God Condone Violence Found in the Old Testament?

What Does it Mean ‘In Your Anger Do Not Sin’?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Motortion

Chris SwansonChris Swanson answered the call into the ministry over 20 years ago. He has served as a Sunday School teacher, a youth director along with his wife, a music director, an associate pastor, and an interim pastor. He is a retired Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman with over 30 years of combined active and reserve service. You can check out his work here.


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