What Does The Bible Say About Revenge?
How should we react or retaliate in the face of persecution, harassment, betrayal or any kind of wrong-doing? What should we do when someone offends us, mocks us or even deceives us?
Should our response be to seek revenge or is there a different solution that we should apply to such problems or issues?
According to dictionary.com to revenge means to exact punishment or expiation for a wrong on behalf of, especially in a resentful or vindictive spirit
Other definitions are as follows: to take action in return for an injury or offence; It is a retaliation for a perceived wrong; The desire to repay an injury or wrong
The Bible consistently tells us that revenge or vengeance is a response or action that is specifically reserved for God alone.
Romans 12:19 says: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Therefore it is not our role to avenge or to seek vengeance against those who offend us or cause us pain. Instead vengeance belongs to God because it is God alone who is the perfect avenger.
God is a just God and He is a perfect and incorruptible Judge who will judge and punish the wicked in His perfect time.
Why does God prohibit man from pursuing vengeance? It is because mankind is flawed and sinful? Revenge or vengeance is capable of corrupting us and breeding feelings of hatred and unforgiveness. The human desire for revenge also creates bitterness and anger. In many cases, vengeance is never done from a pure motive when it is executed by man. A spirit of vindictiveness is dangerous and destructive to the human soul. However, only God does all things from a pure and righteous motive, and this is why He says “vengeance is Mine”.
In Psalms 94:1-11, the psalmist understands that vengeance or revenge belongs to the Lord alone. The psalmist does not seek to execute vengeance himself against the wicked, but instead he prays and trusts that God alone will judge and avenge the wicked.
In 1 Samuel 24:1-22, David also understands that vengeance is the role of God alone. Though David was innocent against Saul, the man who was trying to kill him, David spared Saul’s life even when he had the opportunity to revenge against Saul in the cave. Instead David chose to obey God and not seek vengeance (1 Samuel 24:5-7).
David reserved all judgment and vengeance into God’s hands as he says to Saul “May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you.”
In Romans 12:21 it says: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Hard as it may be, the only way to overcome persecution or an offence of any kind is by doing good. We should not retaliate with an eye for an eye or evil for evil (Romans 12:17). Instead we should respond in love and with good virtues (Romans 12:20).
In Matthew 5:38-39, Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
During Christ’s earthly ministry, Jesus faced persecution, ridicule and many offences from those who opposed Him. Yet even though Christ was innocent and blameless, He did not return evil for evil against those who opposed Him. Instead He continued to focus on the work of His Father in the midst of opposition, persecution and ridicule.
When Jesus Christ was being crucified on the cross, He mostly remained silent even though He had the power to destroy those who mocked Him (Matthew 26:53). Instead Christ prayed to the Father to forgive His persecutors as He was pinned to the cross (Luke 23:34).
Therefore in the face of persecution, wrong-doing or mocking, God commands us to not retaliate with evil or deception or mocking – but instead we should turn the other cheek. We must follow the example of Jesus Christ. Our response must be of love and prayer towards those who are at enmity towards us (Matthew 5:43-45).
Therefore we must know and trust that God will avenge according to His perfect will and that all His judgments are perfect.
As Christians we are to retaliate in prayer and with love and leave the vengeance to God alone.