S102P7 – Simmer down now: yield to righteous wrath

Rom. 12:17-19

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

He knew full well what he was doing.  He was a brother in Christ, and I was trying my hardest to be loving and brotherly.  Even so, he continued to push my buttons.  This behavior really had nothing to do with me personally.  This was his style, his M.O.  He liked to make people uncomfortable, to surprise them with statements they would not expect and then watch as they squirmed in their discomfort.  He just wanted to get a reaction out of me.  Each time it became my turn to suffer this treatment, I wanted to give right back to him what he was giving me.  That was fairness in my mind, and that was what he deserved, but it would have been an exercise in wrath for me to respond as I wanted, and an unrighteous wrath at that.

The enemy and the sin within us would have us believe that anger given in return for anger received is fair.  If we picture a seesaw, this makes sense.  The angry acts or comments balance each other out, right?  Well, that simply is not how it works.  When we repay evil with evil, when we sling back anger after receiving anger, we actually are compounding it.  It is an act of unrighteousness for us to do this because it only compounds evil.  If it is fair for wrath to be returned to that source of evil, only a righteous wrath will do, and that is the wrath of God.  Ours is selfish and rooted in offense.  His is perfect and justified, having not one ounce of anything evil in it.  That is why God asks us to put our anger aside and let him exercise his according to his perfect judgment.

If there is one great compelling reason for us not to take vengeance on our enemies or those who come against us in anger, it is this: our vengeance simply would not be fair.  We do not have the capacity to put aside our hard feelings and exercise righteous wrath against our adversaries.  The temptation is too great for us to go beyond what is fair and cause damage to our enemies out of spite.  God, on the other hand, knows fully the bounds of equity and cannot defy his own righteousness.  His vengeance, his wrath is perfectly equitable.  We cannot hone ours to be like his, so we must put it aside and let him carry out his fair vengeance.  Father, teach us to let our anger go as quickly as it comes, that we would not seek vengeance against those who bring us evil but allow You to avenge us righteously.