Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
All of you have been wronged at one time or another. Most of you, probably, have been wronged seriously by someone who has never apologized or done anything sufficient to make it right.
And one of the deep hindrances to your letting go of that hurt and bitterness is the conviction — the justified conviction — that justice should be done, that the moral fabric of the universe will unravel if people can just get away with horrible wrongs and deceive everyone.
That is one of the hindrances to forgiveness and letting grudges go. It’s not the only one. We have our own sin to deal with. But it is a real one.
We feel that just to let it go would be to admit that justice simply won’t be done. And we can’t do it.
So we hold on to anger, and play the events or the words over and over again with the feelings: It shouldn’t have happened; it shouldn’t have happened; it was wrong; it was wrong. How can he (or she) be so happy when I am so miserable? It is so wrong. It is so wrong! We can’t let it go. And our bitterness starts to poison everything.
This word in Romans 12:19 is given to us by God to lift that burden from us.
“Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God.” What does this mean for you?
Laying down the burden of anger, laying down the practice of nursing your hurt with feelings of being wronged — laying that down — does not mean there was no great wrong against you. There was.
But it also does not mean there is no justice. It does not mean you will not be vindicated. It does not mean they just got away with it. No they didn’t.
It means, when you lay down the burden of vengeance, God will pick it up.
This is not a subtle way of getting revenge. This is a way of giving vengeance to the One to whom it belongs. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. You lay it down. I will pick it up. Justice will be done.
What a glorious relief. I do not have to carry this burden. It is like taking a deep breath, perhaps for the first time in decades, and feeling like now at last you may be free to love.