Some people attend church for decades and never grow. They keep coming, but their hearts are hard. In many cases the cause is that they have refused to forgive somebody.

Forgiving others is sometimes difficult because we want justice to be done. We want to even the score. In a word, we want revenge. Revenge can be very subtle. It need not manifest itself in some horrible act of violence or even in "giving someone the silent treatment." It might show up simply in a refusal to establish eye contact or as passivity in the relationship (the loss of energy to treat the other person well).

Although we may feel justified in our attempts to pay people back for wrongs they have done, the fact is that vengeance is not our job. 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.’"

If anyone had good cause (and good opportunity) to get revenge, it was the biblical character of Joseph. When Joseph was just a boy, his brothers were so jealous of him, they decided to kill him. As they were about to carry out their plans, an interesting opportunity presented itself. Some slave traders were passing by, and Joseph’s brothers saw their opportunity to get rid of Joseph forever and make a little money in the process. They sold him into Egyptian slavery.

Many years later, after Joseph had become the second most powerful man in all of Egypt, Joseph’s brothers were afraid of his vengeance (Genesis 50:15,18-21). They said, "‘It may be that Joseph will pay us back for all the evil which we did to him.’...His brothers also came and fell down before him, and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Fear not, for am I in the place of God?’"

Joseph saw the issue clearly. He trusted in the God "who judges justly." He knew vengeance is something God reserves exclusively for Himself. Joseph did not dare exalt himself into God's place.

We are guilty of exalting ourselves not only when we seek revenge, but also when we judge others, when we judge God Himself, when we take God’s word lightly, and when we run our own lives. God is God, and we’re not. Let’s be careful not to jump up into His chair.


— Jamie Lash                     






 Jamie Lash    LifeGivingWords
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