Justice Not Revenge by Scarlett Stough

Horrible and cruel acts are done by one person to another, sometimes to a mass of people; we hear of it often—too often. Naturally, we want to strike back, punishing those who do such things. We long for justice. Yet, revenge never achieves justice; revenge escalates into never-ending feuds or wars. Our human anger response cannot bring about the righteousness of God (James 1:19-21).

Jesus counseled us to forgive those who wrong us (Matthew 6:12; Luke 11:4). Does this forgiveness absolve their guilt so justice is not done? No, not exactly.

Jesus also said:

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
Luke 18:7-8

Inspired by God, the apostle Paul wrote this promise:

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-10

God fulfilled the requirements of his justice when Jesus gave his body in death, executed for our sins. Only those who accept and believe Jesus have access to God’s pardon. Jesus asked if this faith would be on earth when he returns (Luke 18:8).

Those who do not accept God's atonement will perish (John 3:16-21).

It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.
Deuteronomy 32:35

Civil authorities have the responsibility to punish crimes; but every person is accountable to God.

Acceptance of God's atonement comes with responsibility. We acknowledge his authority to judge (Hebrews 10:30-31) and we are taught to treat others with the compassion we have received (Leviticus 19:18).

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: *"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:19-21

*Paul is quoting Proverbs 25:21-22. The footnote on Proverbs 25:22 from The Amplified Bible, published by Zondervan, 1965 states: "This is not to be understood as a revengeful act, intended to embarrass its victim, but just the opposite. The picture is that of the high priest (Lev. 16:12), who on the Day of Atonement took his censer and filled it with 'coals of fire' from off the altar of burnt offering, and then put on them incense for a pleasing, sweet-smelling fragrance. The cloud of it covered the mercy-seat and was acceptable to God for atonement. Samuel Wesley wrote:

'So artists melt the sullen ore of lead, By heaping coals of fire upon its head: In the kind warmth the metal learns to glow, And pure from dross the silver runs below.'"



Volume 17 Issue 01 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation |


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