Summary: The desire for revenge and justice is part of being in God’s image. But, because sin corrupts us, and because our lives are intended to center around God, we must defer revenge (and sometimes justice) to Him.
Everything You Wanted to Know About Revenge But Never Thought You’d Hear in Church
(Romans 12:14, 17-21)
1. Today’s sermon has little to do with the subject of forgiveness.
2. The Bible is clear that forgiveness is crucial to the Christian life; it is the hallmark of our faith.
3. Not long before she died in 1988, in a moment of surprising honesty on television, Marghanita
Laski, one of the best-known atheists and novelists, said, "What I envy most about you Christians
is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me."
4. As I understand the Scriptures, we forgive others as God forgives us. God forgives us when we repent, and He always stands ready to do so. But His forgiveness is conditioned upon our repentance. Although His love is unconditional, His forgiveness is conditional. Otherwise everyone would be saved. Now it would not offend me if such were the case, but God’s Word is clear: salvation & forgiveness are conditioned upon repentance and faith.
5. But what do you do when someone wrongs you and brings all sorts of misery to you and those you love? What if they do not repent? What if they do not really care whether you forgive them or not? What if their consciences are seared?
6. You spouse has left you for another; you discovered your brother molested your children; someone has stole your identity and now everyone is trying to make you pay their bills; you have lost a parent to a car accident involving a drunk driver; you boss lied about your work production so that you were the one laid off while his loafing buddy is working steadily…
7. Sometimes, by the grace of God, we can let matters go. But this may take years, or we may never get there. We have feelings of revenge. We want justice to be done.
8. Is this a wrong desire? It can be, but it isn’t necessarily so.
Main idea: The desire for revenge and justice is part of being in God’s image. But, because sin corrupts us, and because our lives are intended to center around God, we must defer revenge (and sometimes justice) to Him.
I. Paying Back Evil for Evil Does Not FURTHER God’s Kingdom (14, 17)
1. The difference between persecution and defense: persecution means suffering for our faith (and is typically legal or encouraged by the anti-Christian authorities), defending ourselves is a God-given INSTINCT.
2. We should not do EVIL to counter the wrongs done to us
3. Does this mean we should never speak up?
NIV Acts 23:2-3
At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!"
The desire for revenge and justice is part of being in God’s image. But, because sin corrupts us, and because our lives are intended to center around God, we must defer revenge (and sometimes justice) to Him.
II. We Should Be Willing to Make A SERIOUS Effort to Be At Peace With Others (18)
1. The Bible places a high PREMIUM on peacemaking
• Your instincts may tell you to trash the relationship, to stop trying…
• But conviction tells you: Make more than a token try; make a sincere effort…
• When people come to me for marriage counseling and their marriage is on the verge of collapse, I try to determine if they really want to make a sincere effort to save it, or if one or both parties is simply making a token effort so they can say, “we even tried counseling,” when, in reality, they wanted it to fail…
2. It may not always be possible, but Paul commands us to do OUR PART; it does not always take two to have a conflict.
• I Peter 3:1-2, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”
• The early church greatly reduced infanticide, slavery, polygamy, and homosexuality not through warfare or riots, but by creating a Christian Conscience in the society…
3. But back on a personal level, contrary to popular opinion, the way to have peaceful relationships is not just to quietly absorb everything:
’You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.
• The best way to avoid hating people is to confront them… does not always work, but it does work more times than not…