Revenge Is Easy, But Not An Option!
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
–Romans 12:18 (NIV)
If he had said it once, he had said it a hundred times. And he had! Here’s the basic setting. I had come home from a long day of high school and a friend had really hurt me. A secret had been shared. A trust had been broken. A rumor had been started. A hurtful word had been spoken. I held my tears back until I made it home at the end of the day where I would sob as I relayed the story to my mom and dad. The anger would build up in me and my defense would be planned. I knew exactly what this hurtful friend deserved!
But Every. Single. Time. this scenario would play out, my dad would say to me, “As far as you are concerned, be at peace with all men.” He would say, “You do what you need to do to strive for peace and restoration of this relationship.” I didn’t usually take this advice well in the moment. Most of the time I rolled my eyes and thought to myself, “No way am I doing that!” But 9 times out of 10, by the next morning, my dad’s advice, which was scripture-based, would be hard on my heart and I would go to school ready to make amends – at least as much as I could do to bring peace to this relationship. The scripture that my dad was quoting from is Romans 12:18 which reads, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
We all know that relationships can either bring great joy or be the quickest thing to rob us of our peace. We also read in scripture that Jesus’ most important commandment was to love God and love others. So we know that peace in our relationships is very important to Him. But everyday, all day long we bump into people who let us down, hurt our feelings, wound, neglect or reject us, or make decisions where the consequences affect us negatively. These people can be anyone from drivers on the road to difficult co-workers to close family members. So what do we do? How do we maintain peace in our own hearts and minds as well as have peace in our relationships?
God clearly shows us in Romans 12:19 what NOT to do. This verse states, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’ says the Lord.” Commentator N.T. Wright says this about revenge: “It is not only possible but actually commanded that we should rid ourselves of any desire for revenge. Instead, we should actually go out of our way to do positive, uncalled-for acts of kindness to those who have wronged us.” This is what Paul meant when he said “As far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
Colossians 3:12-15 is our roadmap of exactly what to do when someone hurts/offends us. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
People will hurt us. That will never change. But when we continually put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, we will be filled with the peace of Christ.
Mark 8:35 says, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
I believe another way of saying this is: The pathway to peace with others begins with choosing to die to yourself. We must choose to die to ourselves over and over and over again – and live for Christ.
Hebrews 12:14 is the cherry on top! It says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” When we strive to be at peace with people, they see Jesus! That is encouragement enough for me. I hope it is for you as well. It is not easy. In fact, it is at times extremely difficult. But in the end, the peace it brings to our hearts and minds makes it worth it.