(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Taken Care Of – Why Revenge Doesn’t Have To Be Resolve
By Cherise Stewart
We all love a good story of revenge- where the good guy finally gets the bad guy to pay for all the horrific things they have done. We get sucked into shows that glorify this type of story; Shows like Dexter where the child molesters and murderers received the same punishment as their victims and movies like “Home Alone,” where the burglars get the ultimate payback for breaking into innocent people’s homes.
There is nothing more satisfying than seeing someone who has caused so much pain and suffering get it ALL back in return. The classic tale of “you reap what you sow.” Research shows our brains feel rewarded, albeit momentarily when we act on our impulse to enact revenge on others who “deserve” it. (https://www.scienceofpeople.com/the-psychology-of-revenge/) Watching justice in action restores our faith in God, or maybe just karma.
Why does the world and the media glorify stories of revenge? Is it okay to pray for someone to “get what they deserve?” Does spiritual purity really mean “turning the other cheek”? Doesn’t that make us weak?
We are encouraged to stand up for ourselves and fight for our rights. Not confronting or letting someone get away with something wrong or unfair is often seen as a weakness. Our justice system is based on the premise that you pay for your actions, and “eye for an eye.” In a world filled with creating equity and justice for all, the Bible has quite the opposite message.
The Apostle Paul says in Romans chapter 12, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Do not take revenge, my dear 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.’”
BLESS THOSE THAT PERSECUTE US! Wait, what? Why? Don’t they need to pay for their wrongdoings?
Although it is very human of us to want revenge, God created our bodies to not be able to hold on to these feelings of anger without them affecting our physical and spiritual health. Holding anger increases our blood pressure, increases our risk for a heart attack, and even weakens our immune system. Repressed anger also affects our mental health leading to higher levels of anxiety and depression. https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/ways-anger-ruining-your-health/
Instead of taking justice into our own hands, he teaches us to focus on the things we can control: our own spiritual health and purity. The bible gives us many ideas of what spiritual health looks like. Galatians 5:22-23 says to cultivate fruits of the spirit “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
God instructing us to let him take care of the revenge is a very kind gift. He asks us to let him take care of the details so that we can be spiritually and physically healthy.
When we focus on our own spiritual purity, our physical and mental health are better. Practicing kindness, forgiveness, and love lead to longer lives, healthier bodies, lower levels of stress, and happier lives. God knows this too, this is how he made us. (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/forgiveness/art-20047692)
These “fruits” are keys to our spiritual emotional health and help purify our hearts and minds when they get stuck in the messages of the world.
Although we all find a good story of revenge, very enjoyable, remember that God’s way of justice is far more effective. Our job is to focus on the things we can control our own spiritual health, he can take care of the rest.