Revenge and God

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I am watching the Nooma video called Luggage. Bell is talking about forgiveness and revenge and it raised one really wordy and awkwardly written question for me. Do you think revenge is saying we don’t really trust God or do you think it can be more that we know he can take care of it but sometimes we think it just takes God too long to get around to it and we would like to see amends made a little more expediently?

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  1. Revenge and vengence seem inseperable with us. Further, with humans it seems impossible for revenge and grace to coexist. When we are victimized, we want revenge (vengence). It is a way to both exercise our anger on the guily party as well as an attempt at making the guilty party regret their actions.

    Several years ago I watched a television show about a man in Texas who had raped and murdered two different college age girls. He was eventually caught, found guilty at trial, and sentensed to execution by lethal injection for his crimes. Initially the mothers of each daughter wanted this man to suffer for his crime (and who can blame them?).

    As time went on one mother learned to forgive this man for his terrible crimes. She even was able to meet with this convicted murderer through a special state program and tell this man face to face that she forgave him. The other mother never let go of the hatred she had for this man. She wanted him to suffer and suffer a lot. In fact, she thought lethal injection was too easy of a way to die and wanted the state to use its old electric chair.

    The criminal was eventually executed but the focus of the show was on the two different roads each mother took. The mother who learned to forgive has learned to live with this unbearable tragedy and has helped work with a program that allows victims (and their families) to meet with their assailants for the purpose of bringing healing. While the other mother has gone on to experience the loss of her marriage, severed relationships with other family members, and battled an addiction to alcohol.

    I don’t want to suggest that these subsequent problems were all caused by her inability to learn how to forgive (grace) but the point is, revenge (vengence) has a price. We will never be able to dish out enough vengence to satisfy our desire for revenge. But even worse, as much as we want to persue vengence, it will eat us alive and destroy us.

    May we learn to be people of grace!


  2. Revenge goes along with what has been called “The Myth of Redemptive Violence,” I think. I’ve blogged on it in Portuguese, but not sure if I’ve discussed it in English yet.

  3. adam,
    is that the same “myth” that denies the atonement, claiming that a sacrifice wasn’t needed for sin, and that all the “mean” things God did in the OT are either fiction or just God being mean but he is all soft and cuddly and wouldn’t hurt a flea since the Cross??


  4. I agree it does feel good to get revenge. Somehow it just doesnt have the same pleasure if someone else takes revenge for us. At the same time it does seem to show a lack of faith and trust in God.

  5. Forgiveness isn’t about the other person – it’s about you. If large parts of your heart are filled up with anger and the need for revenge then God can’t have those parts. The fact that you have them at all doesn’t hurt the other person – they are only hurt if the revenge is completed. The outcome doesn’t really give you joy or peace and it doesn’t complete any kind of good work in the person it is visited on.

    You can’t be spirit-filled if you haven’t been emptied of all the garbage first. I’d say this comes under the garbage heading.

  6. I think forgiveness has to do with both parties. We tend to think it is all about the other person and miss the fact that our giving or withholding forgiveness speaks volumes about what is inside of us. At the same time I don’t think forgiveness is just about us. I think there is still a part of it that is about the other person and how they act toward us through either receiving our forgiveness or not. You can tell a lot about a person by how they treat someone they know is refusing to forgive them.

  7. I understand that as a disciple of Christ I am to leave room for God’s wrath. I understand that God is perfect and his reveng on humanity is completely holy. I as a believer am striving to love my enemies and stay in the pleasing will of God. I understand the relationship that I am his child and he is the loving father who takes care of his Children.

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