Know When to Turn the Other Cheek

revenge-retaliate
Retaliation or revenge only brings on more heartache for you. (Getty Images)

When retaliation is squarely on your mind, remember this.

Have you ever watched a movie or a television show where the villain does something evil to someone else, and you immediately find yourself thinking, “boy, I sure hope he gets his come-uppance?”

Not only that, but are you hoping that person truly suffers for his or her actions?

Guilty as charged, your honor.

Revenge is a strong urge many people experience but rarely discuss. It is defined by Webster’s online dictionary as, “to avenge usually by retaliating in kind or degree or to inflict injury in return for something.”

It doesn’t have to be physical. Returning an insult for an insult, for example, unfortunately runs rampant every day on social media. Who hasn’t said, “I hope he gets his?”

And the secular world does nothing to throw cold water on this centuries-old practice. A passage from an article on psychologytoday.com reads, The struggle with revenge is centuries old. Shakespeare said, ‘If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?’ Shakespeare clearly thought revenge was as normal and predictable as the sun rising.”

Remember, while the anticipation of revenge may feel pleasurable, the actual act of revenge brings little satisfaction and may create more problems and suffering.

Shakespearean plays ooze with revenge like a festering sore. Ever read Hamlet, Othello, Richard III or The Merchant of Venice?

But, there is another piece of literature that passionately discourages retaliation. It’s called the Bible.

The first part of Deuteronomy 32:35 says, Vengeance is Mine, and recompense …”

Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-45, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

“Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” It isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when someone publicly slanders you, cheats you or even hurts you physically. Most likely your first instinct is to fight back and seek justice. Can I get an Amen, brothers and sisters?

A insatiable thirst for revenge is an emotion I’ve battled my entire life. I don’t wish to see anyone hurt or suffer—including those who do evil or who have persecuted me. But I won’t lie—when someone who wrongs me is chastised for his or her actions, it comes with a sense of satisfaction. That’s when I know my heart needs a major tune-up.

Over the past couple of years, after much prayer, God has changed my heart. In particular instances when a fellow believer has acted with much less Christ-like demeanor than they portray to the rest of the world, God immediately convicts me and tells me, “Don’t worry about it. Let me handle this. If you handle it, you know how badly it will go.”

Which brings me back to the rest of Deuteronomy 32:35: Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot will slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them.”

 “Their foot will slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand.” It lets me know God has my back. Sooner or later, evil actions or words will come to light. Luke 12:2 says, For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”

Remember, while the anticipation of revenge may feel pleasurable, the actual act of revenge brings little satisfaction and may create more problems and suffering. Take heed to 1 Peter 3:9, “not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”

And as I always like to say, “there is that.”

Shawn A. Akers is the acquisitions editor for Creation House Publishing at Charisma Media. He is a published poet and published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can read his blog here. To sign up for his newsletter, “Step Out of the Boat,” and other Charisma newsletters, click here. You can also listen to his podcasts, the Javelin Sports Show, on the Charisma Podcast Network.

2 thoughts on “Know When to Turn the Other Cheek”

  1. Yes, this is such such an important message. Many movies are not only about revenge but FOR revenge. What I love about the Shakespeare plays you mentioned is that they show how revenge brings disaster (the deaths of Romeo and Juliet are partly caused by revenge; the downfall of Macbeth was because of revenge; the deaths of the innocent Ophelia and Desdemona all caused by revenge). The quote you used by Shakespeare about revenge being a natural part of life is spoken by Shylock, more of a villain in The Merchant of Venice than anything.

    What is confusing about all of this is that I believe we have a sense of justice that God has given all of us. When we see evil, we want the wrong punished. I think that’s God-given. However, it’s like what you said–vengeance belongs to the Lord, not us. In addition, although God is just, He’s also merciful, and THAT is what you’re talking about–a character trait most of us (including me) need!

    Thank you for this post!

    Like

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