On the subject of vengeance.

Several weeks ago the Monday morning study leader announced that the following week we would be starting a study on vengeance. To show that the carnal side of me still exists, I wrote this on my notepad, Coming up next week, Vengeance!, Yeah baby! I was messing around, as the first reaction I had, was to moan because every study is a fitful barrage of legalism. However, when that particular “study” ended, I turned to my friend and said, that wasn’t all bad.

The leader was giving an introduction, but he had already lost me, as I was looking up passages on vengeance. The first thing I came to was a passage in Leviticus.

Leviticus 19:18 ISV “You are not to seek vengeance or hold a grudge against the descendants of your people. Instead, love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”

The first thing I realized is that this is “the law,” and we, are not under the law; or, are we? If we are not under the law, then what do I do with this statement from the Apostle Paul?

Romans 12:16-19 ISV Live in harmony with each other. Do not be arrogant, but associate with humble people. Do not think that you are wiser than you really are. 17) Do not pay anyone back evil for evil, but focus your thoughts on what is right in the sight of all people. 18) If possible, so far as it depends on you, live in peace with all people. 19) Do not take revenge, dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me. I will pay them back, declares the Lord.”

Wait a minute, Paul, the reformed Pharisee, and one of the most prominent advocates of grace; tells his audience of Jewish converts, and us, do not put yourself back under the bondage of the law. And yet, here it is.

Nahum 1:2-3 AMPC The Lord is a jealous God and avenging; the Lord avenges, and He is full of wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries and reserves wrath for His enemies. [Exodus 20:5] 3) The Lord is slow to anger and great in power and will by no means clear the guilty. The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. [Exodus 34:6-7]

There are many scriptural illustrations that Paul could have pulled from, but Nahum conveys the idea of vengeance well. If Paul could be comfortable drawing examples from the “law” while speaking of those same laws as a return to bondage, then your spirit should be telling you that there is something more involved in this idea of bondage than mere constraints put on us by God. The “laws,” such as, love your neighbor as yourselves, are, at the very least, a better way of living; And, they are the very thing that keeps us out of God’s way, as we focus on the positive rather than our hidden agenda of supplanting God by dishing out vengeance and judgment.

So then, even the New Testament conveys constraints that parallel the law.

I have mentioned, many times, how we live under the perfect law of liberty.

James 2:10-12 NASB For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11) For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12) So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.

James is also the one who tells us that we are blessed when we walk in this law.

James 1:25 NASB But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

We then, do not have the freedom to seek vengeance, nor are we entirely free from the God’s law.

As the morning’s study progressed a brash statement was made, when we get to heaven, you will not find a Pharisee there as they will all be in hell. A quick inventory in my head put me in remembrance of Nicodemus, Simon of Arimathea, and the Apostle Paul, all of which, were prominent Pharisees who displayed a love of Jesus Christ.

Several minutes passed and I raised my hand. When the leader finally acknowledged me, I said, as a recovering Pharisee who struggles with judgment I want to share a story with you. At this point, I told them about a stepson who had inappropriately taken one of my handguns into the backyard to show a friend of his. You need to understand that there had been a series of events that ended with a stolen bicycle, and this young man in my backyard had played a role in that. I that moment, with them fondling my revolver, I merely held out a hand, and my stepson placed the gun in my hand. I simply said, had you asked me I would have taken you to the range and taught you how to respect the weapon and shoot it, but since you chose to go behind my back you have lost that opportunity. I began that day to pray that God would remove bad influences from my stepson’s life. Two weeks later, the other boy shot himself in the head while playing Russian roulette. The important thing was I merely asked God to intervene, but I did not try to tell Him what to do about it.

I remind you of Romans 12:19 which says,

19) Do not take revenge, dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me. I will pay them back, declares the Lord.”

I don’t know how I did it because I was angry in the days that preceded that young man’s death. I was the one who walked my son into the police station and made him “return” this obviously stolen bicycle, and this entire process was laden with humiliation and fear for both of us, but it worked out, as they apparently realized that my actions had ingrained a serious lesson in my son.

Once again look at what James has to say.

James 2:12-13 NASB So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13) For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

Pay close attention to verse 13 where it says, “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy.” In my story above I feel like I did it right. I feel no blame for the young man, but I grieved with his father who explained how they had seen unusual patterns beginning to develop.

I can assure you that there were multiple times that I did not get this right, and here is one.

Having been raised in the church, I was severely wounded by a few sarcastic church elders. I carried their wounds most of my life. Did they always occupy my mind? No, but a string of events that I can relate to codependency, seemed to bring their brutal tongues to the forefront of my thinking. The bottom line here is that in my mind I hated them and wanted them to suffer slow, prolonged, and painful torture, for what they did. When you think about the logic in all this, you can see that this pain I believed I inflicted upon them, and the chains I held them in, was all in my head. That means I gave them too much free space in my head. And never, were they aware of this bondage I held them in. During the time involved, I had to maintain the chains, keeping the rust off those chains by oiling them. All this maintenance cost me a tremendous amount of time and energy. Sadly, I felt justified in all this.

Primarily I learned I needed to forgive them.

Yes, I needed to forgive; the problem is, I had no idea of what to do. Oh sure, mother had her designs, which amounted to letting people continue to slap you until you are spinning, but that was not going to work for me either (anymore.) Thankfully there was a day when a prophetic woman stopped me and said, you have to forgive those men who hurt you! I responded with, alright, but how? She said, it’s simple, you merely release them from the debts you think they owe you. To be honest, it only took me a couple of days to realize that I was having no impact on them and that my efforts were simply me, judging them. After, what seemed like a lifetime I released them from the bondage that I felt they owed me. Quickly, I began doing that with ex-wives and others that had offended me.

I have, over time, told these truths to others, only to have them say its hard to forgive!

I respond briskly with, no, it’s not. The only difficult part is you letting go of the imaginary control you think you have. You see, when we set ourselves up as judges and put people into the prison of our minds, we have set ourselves up as God. We have supplanted God and tried to take over His job. In doing this, we have set up our own fates, which James spells out.

James 2:12-13 NASB So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13) For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

Since we are not under the law, and yet have an almost identical command in the New Testament, then let’s try one more and see if we can find the freedom in it.

Deuteronomy 32:35 CJB Vengeance and payback are mine for the time when their foot slips; for the day of their calamity is coming soon, their doom is rushing upon them.’

On one hand, this tells us that all vengeance belongs to God, while on the other hand, it speaks to payback, which is His also. Their day will come, whether they be religious or ungodly.

I will show you Romans 12:19 once again.

Romans 12:19 ISV Do not take revenge, dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me. I will pay them back, declares the Lord.”

By taking yourselves out of the judgment seat, you are putting these people back into God’s hand. As the ISV translation says, leave room for God’s wrath.

Alright, there is time for just one more story.

On a particular day, I was put in charge of the office where I was outnumbered by women who had taught us men, how to install and repair pay phones. A particular lady, who had a horrific case plantar fasciitis, whined incessantly about how she could not do the job. I suspect that I misread her that day, and thought that she was saying that she could not do the added dimension of installing the wiring. I asked her to stay in the office for a moment and proceeded to tell her, in my most Pharisaical tone, that as a Christian I was ashamed of her because, we, as believers, can do all things through Christ. The short of it, within about six months my judgment came back on me, and I found myself ashamed of my actions. I don’t know what became of her, but I lost everything dear to me. So, I understand how this works, and you don’t want to get into the judgment game.

This entry was posted in Apostle Paul, bible study, false teaching, Freedom from sin, God's character, Hearing God, judgment, Law of liberty, Peace, Things I have never noticed before, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture, Vengeance and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s