A few years ago, an angry and revengeful man shot two journalists in cold blood. By his own admission, he was a time bomb waiting to explode, fueled by offenses that appeared to have been fabricated in his head. Regardless of the reality of his concerns, his response was revenge, with the hope of  infamy.

Fortunately, most of us will not take our feelings of revenge out in such a violent way. Rather than allow those feeling  to grow, one has to learn to let go and find healthy ways to stand against injustice. Taking revenge into your own hands is not a godly response.

Scripture tells us that revenge is the Lord’s. Now, the temptation to act out in revenge may creep into our heart, but to act on those feelings and take matters into our own hands is not the mark of a Christ follower.

Revenge doesn’t solve anything. It only ups the ante for more hate and anger. Both anger and hate negatively impact the physical body and hurt the person seeking revenge. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had it right when he said, “The old law of ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind.” The Bible is clear. We are not to repay evil with evil, no matter how tempting it is. We have to trust that God will deal with people His own way.

If you find yourself wanting revenge, these 5 biblical prescriptions may help curb that urge.

  1. Be slow to speak and to become angry. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). Since revenge is fueled by anger and hate, don’t allow yourself to hold on to those feelings should they surface. Uncontrolled anger is dangerous. So, consider what helps you manage your anger.
  2. Examine your heart. What do you desire? “A quick-tempered person does foolish things, and the one who devises evil schemes is hated” (Prov. 14:17). Rather than simply react in the moment, stop and think. Ask yourself, what is motivating me to want revenge? Assess the motive of your heart. Then, take a cool down period to reconsider your actions.
  3. Observe your feelings. Acknowledge the angry feeling and then let it go. Yes, you are very angry. Things were not handled well. Anger is not a sin, but what we do anger can lead to sin. And venting anger will increase it. So, notice it and release it to the Lord. Cast your cares on Him. Then, practice calming techniques. “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city” (Prov. 16:32). “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end” (Prov. 29:11).
  4. Don’t allow your anger to escalate. “A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty; rescue them, and you will have to do it again” (Prov. 19:19). When our anger gets hotter and hotter, we lose objectivity and don’t make good decisions. Basically, the part of our brain responsible for thinking goes off line. This is why staying calm is so important. It allows the thinking part of your brain not to be hijacked by the feeling part of the brain.
  5. Surround yourself with people who exercise self-control. “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered” (Proverbs 22:24). The people around you influence. If you are constantly encouraged to take revenge, act out and incite violence, you might do something you regret. Instead, surround yourself with those who know the Word and will encourage forgiveness and letting go of offense.

Revenge only leads to destruction—for you, and for those around you. There is no place in the heart of a believer for revenge. We can fight injustice, call others to accountability, but in the end, God will judge and deal with those who treat us unfairly. God says revenge is his, not ours. Our place is to forgive

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