A famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” Interestingly enough how true that should be to a Christian if they understand the relationship they have with Jesus. Nothing from your past and nothing in your future can compare to the Jesus of the NOW inside of you. Yet is that how we always feel? Is that how we react to challenges and strife the world dishes out to us? When the hurt is purposeful and we lose something from it….do we still hold true to Jesus inside our heart?
Another famous quote from an anonymous says, “Weak people revenge, Strong people forgive and Intelligent people ignore.” Which is your dominant response to a sinful action? take a deep look into that question….do you seek revenge easily? Do you forgive without regression? Do you see the errors in sin and ignore them and pray? The fact is simple….we ALL sin and we ALL cause pain and we ALL fail. So, the deeper reflection is….HOW SHOULD I RESPOND TO CHANGE THE PATTERN?
J.C. Ryle’s quote above demonstrates the reality of sin’s impact on our souls. Each moment of sin wedges more distance between grace and truth. The distance ends up breeding fear increasing our doubts of real love and healing. When the presence of love fades, then our hardening hearts are more difficult to penetrate with forgiveness. It’s the sin condition. Pride, media, movies, broken foundations, and bitterness are just a few of the seeds planted in fear’s garden.
Keeping the garden analogy….for each seed planted we also harvest the poison not even realizing it doesn’t belong. We consume it, lavishing its taste as it manipulates itself to be desired. We become addicted to the new norm and in turn place more and more distance away from the truth of God’s grace. Revenge is born. The perception of intention amongst all people, even Christians, is tainted with evil. Love, is even defined more often with conditions instead of forgiveness.
So when someone sins against us and hurts us, betrays us, lies to us, steals from us, belittles us….we do what?? If we’re truly honest we reproduce evil for evil and try to convince ourselves it isn’t evil. Maybe the outside displays a softer, non-judgmental side; but inside your heart you can feel the intensity of bitterness and revenge. Can we truly control it? Are we able to soften our hardness and see fear as the lie it is? Do we hold our love for Jesus Christ high enough in our lives to uproot the evil of revenge?
I know you may be asking or even thinking, this is all good thoughts Chad but come on….we live in a fallen world and NOBODY is perfect but Jesus! Why even try to change what will always be? Well….that might all be true, however explain away this:
Mark 3:20-29 NLT
One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said. But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.” Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house. “I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.”
1 John 4:16-17 NLT
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
Who can stand against the evil, against the fear, against the sin born within this flesh? Jesus can….and if He lives through His Holy Spirit in you….you can too. All of those mistakes you have won’t be tatooed to your mind; all those words of hatred won’t echo in your ears NO MORE. Freedom….the chains are gone around your heart to feel….LOVE.
Think about this old saying, “Kill em with kindness;” Who do you think the “em” represents? Those that sin against you. Kindness stems from loving roots in the heart. The sweetest part of revenge for the true follower of Jesus?? Loving the enemy….speaking love through forgiveness….praying love through graceful ACTIONS. To this no real evil can survive. You cannot nourish the sin and bore evil when love infects the soil of your soul!
Returning sin for sin continues to breed the evil we are here to help save others from through Jesus Christ. But being different as we are encouraged in scripture; changes the mindset of the end goal….not for revenge, but to LOVE. Love in return for a sin changes the impossibility in the human mind that good and evil don’t mix….for it can and does but just for a moment! Once love injects itself into your heart for real, evil can’t win. Like the devil, it must submit to the ultimate love grounded in the blood of Jesus Christ! The only ones who can let evil continue to exist is US. The battle is won and evil will die with the coming of our Lord again. So quit playing games with no eternal significance!!
The Sweetest Revenge….is LOVE! 🙂