No Payback

Michael Beck

“See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15)

God calls us to live above our instincts. There are both natural and spiritual instincts. Man’s spiritual instinct for revenge proceeds from an innate desire for justice. He has this desire because God has made him in His image and likeness. But God has not given to man an unfettered right to avenge himself. Vengeance belongs to God. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Rom. 12:19)

Our desire to retaliate is strongest when we have been personally mistreated. We begin to calculate what another owes and has not given. “She should love me more.” “He should respect me more.” We perceive “evil” more often in what another has not done for us. Being invisible, ignored, and unloved by another can vex us more than being hated.

Truth be told: every one of us has debtors – those who should have done better by us. But on the flip side, every one of us is a debtor. Others fail us; we fail others. And because of this we need mercy and we need to be merciful.

The one Person we have failed the most is God. To Him we’ve owed the greatest debt of love and honor; and yet, in Christ, there is mercy and forgiveness for all our failure. Is it fitting for those who have received such great mercy to show no mercy to their debtors? Jesus made it plain: we will receive mercy to the degree we show mercy.

Do yourself and others a favor – hold fast mercy, let go of vengeance. In Christ, God has released you from His wrath. He holds nothing against you. Do the same – let go of your anger; hold nothing against no one.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.