Romans 12; 1 Samuel 23-24; Psalm 67
As the early church began to undergo persecution Paul gave them a reminder of God’s desires. “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Romans 12:18-19) I wonder if he was thinking of the story of David running from Saul that’s in today’s readings as he wrote this. Quite honestly, I would have preferred that this had been worded a bit differently. I wish it said something like “pay back evil for evil and take out your wrath on those who would harm you.” It doesn’t. Even the part that says “give place to wrath” really talks about God’s wrath, which is righteous, and not our wrath which may be justified in the sight of man but not in the sight of God who died for those whom we are wrathful towards. We suffer many personal slights and many attacks against our faith in this world. God’s plan is for us to let Him handle payback. God sometimes has this weird system of justice that would see His relationship restored with those we think deserve vengeance. He would forgive them. He would bring them back into His family. As angry as that might make me, it doesn’t take much to realize that there are some whom we’ve provoked to anger who might have the same feelings about us. The admonition remains – if possible, be at peace with all men.
Lord, sometimes Your teaching is so unsatisfactory. There are those who deserve my anger and vengeance. You bid me not to seek vengeance, but to let You deal with the problem. So I ask for the strength to withhold my anger. Help me to realize Your love for those people. Help me to realize that I have upset others the same way and yet You loved me too. Love those others and restore them into Your Kingdom.