Welcome to your morning coffee! May our Heavenly Father help us to swallow our pride when others do evil to us and treat us poorly. Father, this world is broken, and so is everyone in it. But as our flesh is broken, we have been made whole and new within by the work of your Son and the filling of your Spirit! Help us to see the evil done to us as being ultimately done to you. And as such, all evil of any shape or size is yours to judge and yours to repay. Father, you are so good and wise and just. We can trust you in all things, how much more so when others try to hurt us. In the name of Jesus and by the Spirit, help us to respond, not in kind, but with your love according to your Will. Amen!
Your Morning Song: "Living Hope" by Phil Wickham
Your Morning Scripture: Romans 12:18-21
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
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.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I'm not sure if you've noticed, but a certain kind of movie has become very popular over the last few years. Revenge movies. They've always been around, but recently there has been an explosion of movies about a main character that goes on a vengeful rampage, usually over losing a loved one, and kills all the bad guys. There's even one where a hitman goes on a killing spree because someone killed his dog. Our culture has become very suddenly, very popularly, very intensely fascinated with the cinematic fantasy of revenge.
This isn't only true in movies, but also online there are whole forums, videos, and articles with examples of people getting revenge on those who have wronged them. A childhood bully. A cruel boss. An ex-wife or ex-husband. A co-worker. A teacher. And the greatest sign that our culture has well and truly become obsessed with revenges of all shapes and sizes is that there are some who have begun to create fake stories of revenge, because there is such a high demand for it.
There is something very dangerous about our desire to take revenge. The context does not matter. There is no context (what was done to us) that will make us the right person to take revenge for what was done to us. And that is why God says, "It is mine to avenge, I will repay."
If something bad has been done to us, and we try to disguise our revenge underneath some cloak of justice, we are lying to ourselves. If it was only about making sure justice is done, God promises to do just that, "I will repay." God's justice, God's wrath, are both so great and so terrible that we should never think that we are the right person for that job. We cannot weild such incredible power and responsibility. It is morally wrong for us to try.
Instead, when people treat us poorly, we should trust that God can and will repay injustice. He can and He will. And we cannot and should not. What then, is left for us to do? Treat our enemies with love. Give them the opposite of what they have given us.
During this Christmas season, as many of us are tired, perhaps sick, perhaps overwhelmed, let's be careful not to give in to the temptation to take revenge. Especially the small revenges. An aquaintance you don't get along with who says a careless word. A bad driver on the highway. A family member on Christmas who forgets you or treats you poorly. We will each have our opportunities to entrust all shapes and sizes of hurt and injustice and wrong to our Heavenly Father. And respond with love.
And if this seems too weak, too small, too unsatisfying, just remember that God, perhaps with a bit of humor and perfect understanding, has promised that this love will be like hot coals on their heads.
So go forth, Church! And dump hot coals on peoples heads this Christmas!