“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:17-19).
Injustice and mistreatment are never easy storms to weather. Our innate sense of right and wrong, plus a divinely cultivated mindset which righteously abhors evil must not be allowed to express itself inappropriately in personal vengeance. This passage declares three somber truths to help us to turn the other cheek when evil strikes. These are:
Personal vengeance impresses no one. Revenge is not highly regarded among good people. It can be found in the instincts of any provoked animal. Its short-lived sweetness in your mouth quickly sours into a long-term case of bitter remorse and haunting shame.
Personal vengeance towards evil is presumption. Vengeance is a divine, not human, responsibility. Regardless of whether He personally executes justice upon the wicked (like He did with Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19) or delegates it to His ministers in civil government (Romans 13:4), it is God’s responsibility to praise the good and punish the wicked. Transgressing the line which separates human responsibilities from divine ones is called presumption. Don’t go there.
Personal vengeance towards evil demonstrates a lack of faith in God. “I will repay” is not vague or unclear. “I will repay” was declared by the One who cannot lie (Titus 1:2) and is backed up with a massive amount of historical evidence which proves its utter trustworthiness. Failing to trust this promise of God reveals an evil heart of unbelief.
To help us resist the powerful allure of vengeance God’s penman reminded us of these three timeless, somber truths: It is not a good thing; it is presumptuous; it demonstrates a lack of faith in God.
Don’t lose the war with evil. Overcome evil with good.