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The Call Not to Render Evil for Evil But to Overcome Evil with Good

It's really hard to forgive isn't it? It's very easy to confuse forgiveness with letting go of justice or one's rights to complain if one is ever mistreated. The issue of forgiveness is not negating justice but all about enforcing it. Justice punishes wrong like enforcing death penalty against crimes against life to protect society. Revenge on the other hand is putting the law into one's hands for one's own convenience. It's like how a person decides to even harm others who aren't involved just to hurt the person. Justice only punishes the wrongdoer while revenge may even seek to punish those who did no wrong. That's the difference between the two. One respects the eye for an eye tooth for a tooth principle while the other doesn't.

It's very hard to also not to return evil with evil. Fallen humanity is prone to wanting revenge instead of letting it go. Do you know why Israel today is still at war with many of its neighboring nations? It's because the people of Israel and its neighboring countries are grounded with bitterness because most of them continue to reject Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Many Jews today still continue to reject their King who told them to love their enemies and to pray for them. The same goes for the many enemies of Israel is that they still continue in such stubborn unbelief. In the days of Jesus, the Pharisees have perverted the whole Mosaic law on the standards for punishment to be used for personal vendetta. Revenge was never allowed even in the Old Testament. Leviticus 19:18 says, "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD." In short, God didn't allow any revenge at all. He didn't give the whole eye for an eye principle as a formula for revenge. Instead, it was meant to punish offenses depending on their severity. The death penalty in the Bible had proper due process that's hardly followed today.

People think revenge will bring closure but it doesn't. Instead, revenge continues to perpetuate the cycle. The Middle East's sad history can be summarized as you bomb me yesterday so I'll bomb you today. That's what's going on with Israel and its neighboring countries. Many Jews today still are bitter and unforgiving so I guess that's why they rejected the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came to be born among the Jews and taught them love and forgiveness. It's safe to assume that they didn't want it and they would have had it better that Jesus would lead a revolt against the Romans. Maybe that's why they chose Barabbas because Jesus had no record that He was against Rome. Today, even modern day Israel helps aggravate the situation in the Middle East by nursing a grudge and taking revenge as much as its enemies. By continuing the same cycle of revenge means it's just giving one person after the other justification to hurt the other all because the other person hurt the other person yesterday. Esther handled Haman without taking the law into her hands while several Jews today are taking the law into their own hands. By doing so, Esther was focused on God while the several Jews today who continue their culture of revenge are stooping down to the level of the enemies they hate so much.

On the contrary, forgiveness brings closure to old wounds one way or another. Sure it makes one look weak but salvation brings reconciliation between man and God. It does make a person look stupid not to take revenge but all revenge does is just continue the battle. Even if one succeeds in murdering one's enemy it doesn't end with one's peace of mind. It may also mean that the person would plan to also murder also all those who sympathized with the enemy. That's what I think is happening between unsaved Jews and their unsaved enemies. While Esther and Mordecai only had Haman and his wicked clan gotten rid of because they could have ended the lives of many innocent people. On the other hand, many Jews today just keep a culture of revenge for their own selfish purposes. It makes those vengeful Jews no better than the vengeful Arabs. The only good Jew and the only good Arab is a Christian Jew and a Christian Arab. Jews and Arabs who aren't saved are no better than the rest of the unsaved people of the world. The Gospel was not only limited to the Jews but also to the Gentiles.

Do you know people will inevitably know how wrong they were when their evil is returned with kindness? Proverbs 25:21-22 says, "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee." It may not be a guarantee of repentance on the offender but treating the enemy with kindness somehow has a rewarding effect. It shows the love that Jesus has for sinners as Romans 5:6 says, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." If the Christians decided to take revenge during persecution then I don't think the Christian church would expand. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has always been about forgiveness found in Jesus Christ. Would the Christians have decided to start massacring those who persecuted them then Christianity won't grow. Instead, it was by showing love and forgiveness and by hating sin because they want people to be saved that also displayed the power of God's grace in the life of the persecuted Christians.


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