By Kendall Lowe
On one occasion, as a young boy, I found myself in a rough situation with my older brother. He was on the computer playing a game, and I was watching over his shoulder. My brother, of course, didn’t appreciate that and told me to go away. However, being the kid that I used to be, I refused and continued watching over his shoulder, even breathing in his ear to make it worse. When I still wouldn’t leave, my brother spun around in his chair and shouted, “I hate you!” It was plenty loud enough for my dad to hear, so I knew that my brother was going to get it. To this day I don’t know what came over me, but the only response I could give in that moment was to shout back, “I hate you too!”
I took the situation from my brother being in big trouble to dragging myself along with him. Why couldn’t I just let him take the heat?
There is a predicament in our world that is not easy to overcome. We might call it vengeance, but that usually leads our minds to think about thrilling movies with spies and murderous villains. We say, “I would never try to get revenge on someone. That’s so evil.” The word I would use, however, that might make us a bit more uneasy is “getting even”. We all get this feeling where when something has been done to us we must now either get them back even worse or at least at the same level. Many of the times I see this is on social media. So often someone says something to hurt someone’s feelings and the natural response is to crack down on them, to put up our fists and call them out. If our response is either fight or flight, we most often choose to fight without thinking twice.
However, the Bible teaches that a different response bears much different fruit. Romans 12:20 reads, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing so, you will heap burning coals on his head.” When we hear this we might think, “I would love to heap burning coals on his head after what he just said.” But this is not the point of this teaching. Paul doesn’t say “do not avenge yourselves” only to turn around and give you a way of getting even. What Paul is saying here is that a good response to your enemy will get the result you actually want, not the one you think you want. What you think you want (to get even) will ultimately bring those vengeful actions right back to you. But the righteous response – overcoming evil with good – results in a response from your enemy that might resemble repentance. Try it! Next time you feel attacked or hurt, try returning the hurt with kindness. You might be surprised what God can do when you leave revenge to Him.