A few years ago, we saw a news story about an angry man who wanted to rake revenge and 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.
No matter the legitimacy or illegitimacy of his concerns, his response to feeling wronged was to seek revenge and infamy, a pattern we have seen over and over in public shootings.
Hopefully, most of us will never act out in such a violent way. Whatever wrongs and offenses we have felt or experienced must be handled in a peaceful and better way. Rather than allow the feeling of revenge 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. The temptation to act out in revenge may creep into our heart, but to act on those feelings and take matters into your own hand is not the mark of a Christ follower.
Revenge doesn’t solve anything. It only ups the ante for more hate and anger. Both negatively impact the physical body and serve to hurt the person seeking revenge. 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 biblical prescriptions may help curb that urge.
- Be slow to speak and 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.
- Examine your heart. What do you desire? (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. Take a cool down period to reconsider your actions.
- Observe your feelings. Acknowledge the feeling and then let it go. Practice calming techniques. (Prov. 16:32) (Prov. 29:11) Acknowledge the feeling. Okay, you are very angry. Things were not handled well. Anger is not a sin, but what we do anger can lead to sin. Venting anger will increase it. So, notice it and release it to the Lord. Cast your cares on Him.
- Don’t allow your anger to escalate. (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 clearly 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.
- Surround yourself with people who exercise self-control.(Prov. 22:24). The people around you have influence. If you are constantly being 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, fight injustice and move forward.5 Ways to Overcome Feelings of Revenge