Proverbs 20:22

Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.

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Is revenge sweet? Your spirit and the world say it is. But God says it is sin. Who will you believe? Solomon warned his son not to think about repaying evil to anyone. Rather than take things into your own hands toward your enemies, let the LORD take care of them.

When someone hurts you, the natural response is anger and thoughts of self-defense and revenge. You react immediately, instinctively, and violently. It is due to your depraved heart inherited from Adam. Paul described man’s natural instincts this way: “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (Titus 3:3).

Men love to fight and war. Rather than overlook offences, they want revenge quickly. Rather than forgive wrongs, they will hold a grudge forever. Paul described your warlike character very graphically, “The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known” (Rom 3:14-17).

Revenge comes from pride: a humble man does not worry about repaying evil. Revenge is blinding. It can easily lead to horrible crimes, including murder. Solomon’s proverbs are about wisdom, and the blinding rage of revenge perverts your ability to perceive, understand, and judge correctly. It destroys wisdom. And it leads to sinful actions.

The situations at stake are personal offences against you. Offences against God are to be dealt with as the Bible directs. Rebellious children should be punished; sinning church members should be excluded; violent citizens should be executed. Personal offences are to be overlooked, and personal enemies are to be loved (Matt 5:38-48). This is the law of Jesus Christ, and it is the highest form of charity and wisdom in the world. Embrace it!

Rather than returning evil for evil, a noble and wise man will return good for evil, thus avoiding the blinding danger of grudges and revenge, calming his enemies with kindness and patience, and glorifying God in a difficult matter (Pr 25:21-22; Lev 19:18; Rom 12:17-21; I Thess 5:15; Heb 12:14; Jas 3:16-18; I Pet 3:8-11). Learn this wisdom today.

You should not think about revenge, not even in your heart, not even when evil befalls your enemies from other sources. God and Solomon condemned any joy when your enemy falls (Pr 24:17-18). Sinful thoughts against another are murder (Matt 5:21-22)!

Who are your enemies today? Are there any that you resent? Are you harboring a grudge or thoughts of revenge against any? Maybe your spouse? Maybe a colleague or boss at work? Maybe a neighbor? Maybe a church member? Confess your sin to God, and look for opportunities to befriend them. Treat them as you want them to treat you, not as they have treated you (Luke 6:27-36). This is true wisdom. This is true Christianity.

Glorious men pass over others’ personal transgressions (Pr 19:11). They are not moved, especially to anger or revenge, by others’ offences. They are too noble to be disturbed, distracted, or destroyed by such minor and insignificant things. If you cannot nobly ignore minor wrongs, there is only one option for remedy – God’s way (Matt 18:15-17).

Joseph saw his brothers’ offences under God’s sovereignty and did them no harm, though he had them in his power (Gen 45:5; 50:20). Abigail kept David from foolish revenge against Nabal (I Sam 25:23-35), and he let Shimei curse, believing God would hear (II Sam 16:5-14). Learn to commit your soul to your faithful Creator (I Pet 2:23; 4:19).

The best revenge is to leave enemies to God. He is most fair, His judgments most awful. Vengeance is His; He will repay (De 32:25; Lu 18:7-8; Rom 12:19; Heb 10:30). David left Saul to God, though he could have killed him. What was the result? Saul fearfully consulted a witch, killed himself, was beheaded and hung up for display by Philistines, was cremated, had his bones buried under a tree, and his family cut off from the throne!

Moses was wickedly confronted by his sister and Korah. Rather than punishing these arrogant and profane rebels himself, he left the matter to the LORD. Miriam was sharply rebuked by the Lord, became white with leprosy, and was quarantined outside the camp (Num 12:1-15). What of Korah? He was swallowed alive by the earth (Num 16:1-40)!

Only the Holy Spirit can create and sustain a loving and peaceful spirit in a man, so that anger and revenge are only fleeting thoughts of folly. Faith in God is the cure, for He will always take care of His own. Believe it! If you are guilty of vengeful thoughts, confess your wickedness to God, cast yourself upon his mercy begging for strength, pray for your enemies, and seek opportunities to do good to them. This is wisdom and the will of God.