Ever wanted to get somebody back? You may have disguised it as seeking justice, or revealing a wrong or whatever, but the truth may be more complicated. We want to hurt those who hurt us.
And it’s a killer.
I had a pastor lie about me a few years ago – a public guy I hardly know. He threw me under the bus to cover something he did that lacked character.
From that point on, I wanted vengeance. But I found it did me little good. It affected my writing and my life. Do I like the guy? No. But God will bring all things to justice and my hope is both he and I will be forgiven – me for seeking vengeance, him for lying.
Ever watched an NFL game in which a player jabbed at another player but the referee called a foul on the reaction rather than the instigation?
In the world of you and me, this happens all the time. If somebody jabs you and you jab back, you better believe the person who jabbed you in the first place is going to frame it so you get all the heat. They won’t mention the instigation, they’ll just tell everybody what you said and did and pretend they never lifted a finger.
If a person has so little integrity that they jab you, you better believe they’re gonna win in the slop.
Here’s what Jesus says to do: Turn the other cheek.
Insane, isn’t it? Jesus says to take the hit and walk on.
It stinks, I know. And it’s not like it’s a tactic that helps you win in the end. It doesn’t. But it’s great damage control, it’s humbling, and it’s saying to the world you don’t think you’re God.
By turning the other cheek we avoid the pig slop.
There are some exceptions, though. If you’re being abused physically or in danger, call the cops. You can turn the other cheek and forgive once the person is behind bars or if there is a restraining order. If somebody lies about you and they’re part of a church body, you can bring the complaint before the elders. Just don’t do it out of vengeance; do it to make the lying stop. And try to be forgiving all the same. People tend to lie about and pick on others they see as more powerful than themselves. Try to use your power kindly.
In all, though, I see no benefit to seeking vengeance. It doesn’t right a wrong, it doesn’t make things better, and it doesn’t create sustained peace. If we want those things, we’re going to have to take our blows.