This devotional series examines a verse or two from a chapter of Proverbs each day of January 2017.
Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you. ~Proverbs 20:22
One of the most counter-any-culture aspects of the Bible is how it calls us to respond to people who hurt us and people who set themselves up as our enemies. We, ourselves, are to strive to be no one’s enemy, instead doing all we can to seek peace with all other people and being quick to forgive and seek forgiveness (Matthew 5:23-24, Romans 12:18).
But when we have been hurt or offended, we also are not to seek our own retribution. Yes, if appropriate, we involve the authorities, but otherwise we are to be quick to forgive, do good, and leave justice in the hands of God. We are not to be seekers of personal vengeance.
Consider what the Bible says in addition to the proverb above:
“But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” ~Jesus, Matthew 5:39-41
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” ~Jesus, Matthew 5:43-45
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” ~Jesus, Matthew 7:12
“Repay no one evil for evil… Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he his thirsty give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” ~Paul, Romans 12:17-21
We see time and again that we are not to respond in kind to those who have hurt us. Rather, we are to respond to them in the way that God has acted toward us. We are to pray for them and seek their good. In doing so, our acts of charity will either be a witness for them in order to lead them to Christ or a witness against them as they walk their path toward God’s wrath.
Either way, we are trusting the perfect God to carry out justice on our behalf.