Summary: When wronged or hurt by someone we are often tempted to lash out in vicious anger seeking revenge.
“On an old ‘Amos and Andy’ television program, Andy was angry. There was a big man who would continually slap him across the chest every time they met. Andy finally had enough of it. He told Amos, ‘I’m going to get revenge. I put a stick of dynamite in my vest pocket. The next time he slaps me on the chest he’s going to get his hand blown off.’ But Andy forgot that the dynamite would also blow his own heart out. Revenge may hurt the other person, but it always blows our own heart out as well.” [SOURCE: --Gaylord Goertsen in The Christian Leader (February 26, 1991). Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 7].
Roy Anthony Borges was sentenced to a term of 45 years in a Florida penitentiary for robbery. He has become a Christian and is a law clerk in the prison library. Roy tells this story in an article he wrote for DISCIPLESHIP JOURNAL and
MEN OF INTEGRITY magazine in 1998:
“Where the strong prey on the weak, loving your enemies can seem self-destructive. Rodney stole my radio and headphones while I was in the prison yard playing volleyball. I had no way to prove it and, since we couldn’t receive more gifts at the time, couldn’t replace them.
“The old Roy wanted to knock that wisecrack grin off Rodney’s face. That’s how I had solved my problems in the past. God’s been teaching me another way, however, since I became a Christian. He tells me vengeance is His. I decided to pray for Rodney.
“Later, my job as a prison law clerk took me to the confinement cells. Rodney’s days of stealing from other prisoners had caught up with him. As I passed his cell, he asked if I remembered him.
"Sure, you’re the guy who stole my radio."
"That weren’t me," he lied.
“‘That’s all right, Rodney, I forgive you.’ I forgot about Rodney stealing my radio and thought more about the fact that Jesus loved him. Soon I found myself helping Rodney and telling him about Jesus. Then one day I saw him kneeling next to his bunk reading the Bible, and I knew that good had overcome evil. [SOURCE: --Roy Anthony Borges in Discipleship Journal (9-10?98), quoted in Men of Integrity,
Vol. 2, no. 4.].
The late Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate.” [SOURCE: “Theft in the Cell Block” as posted on web site: http://www.christianitytoday.com/moi/2000/001/jan/31.31.html]. I would like to paraphrase Romans 12:21 just a bit: “Be not overcome by anger, but overcome anger with love, patience, and forgiveness.”
Are you harboring bitterness, anger, resentment, and hatred in your heart for someone today? Do you desire revenge? Have a little talk with Jesus about those feelings as your come in repentance and faith to His Table this morning. Then, walking in the power of His Spirit, shower that person in God’s love. The Holy Spirit will honor your prayer and your faith and empower you to overcome anger with love, patience, and forgiveness.