Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel the Elder, “Anger” National Gallery of Art, Public Domain – NGA Image
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:43-45, NLT)
Revenge may seem sweet for a moment but the harm is immense and demons of destruction released are not content with measured amounts of justice. The chaos and damage can engulf the taker of revenge and the receiver of revenge. Even the strong can be crushed and bitterness and misery can come like a flood in haunting and unrelenting ways. The revenge which seems so sweet at the moment can extract unforeseen costs and leave a desolate landscape and legacy of torment and pain which can last for a long time. In the lives of individuals and in the scope of nations; revenge seldom leaves a pretty picture.
Yet, something incredibly miraculous happens when we venture around the corner of intending upon inflicting revenge on someone and turn to walk on the street of praying for our enemies. Slowly the desire to damage someone is remade by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit into love. It is a hard walk to the corner as we let go of human nature but the view after the turn, unto the street of grace brings us face to face with God as He release His blessing into our life. It is the truth, Jesus desired we find, as our hearts are purified. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8, ESV). As the forgiveness of Christ liberates us from the prison of sin; forgiving others with the forgiveness of Christ frees us to experience His grace midst great joy.
Forgiving another is also the only way; others can connect the gift of the forgiveness of Christ available to them with the living Christ residing in you. Around the corner of revenge is the street of grace and it is a wonderful pathway to God’s greatest blessings. Turn the corner away from revenge and experience the freedom you will find as you walk on the street of forgiveness and grace. You may be surprised, but then again God is full of surprises because He does more than we can dream or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
From the Ancient Church …
“If you are remembering evil against someone, then pray for him; and as you remove through prayer the pain of the remembrance of the evil he has done, you will stop the advance of the passion. And when you have attained brotherly love and love for mankind, you will completely cast this passion out of your soul. Then when someone else does evil to you, be affectionate and humble toward him, and treat him kindly, and you will deliver him from this passion.”
St. Maximus the Confessor, Chapters on Love, 3.90 (580-662 C.E)
Suggested Reading … Matthew 5