In the movie “Trading Places” two millionaire investors decide to explore the question of nature vs. nurture. They take a snobbish investor and make his life miserable while taking a street hustler and put him in the lap of luxury. They want to see if the street hustler will succeed at investing and if the investor will keep going down. The two guinea pigs meet by chance and discover the millionaires’ plot. They work together to get revenge and ruin the millionaires. As the millionaires’ plot unraveled, they themselves were broken. The two guinea pigs got payback.
At the banquet Esther held for Haman and King Xerxes, she revealed Haman’s plot. The King was enraged and went out to the garden to think. He came back, and things went from worse to horrible for Haman. “Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The king exclaimed, ‘Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?’ As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, ‘A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.’ The king said, ‘Impale him on it!’” (Esther 8:8-9)
Haman’s plot unraveled swiftly. When he was pleading for Esther to spare him, he fell and then it looked like he was attacking Esther just as the king came in. Haman was done for. His honor, his wealth, his life all became forfeit in that instance. Then, as the plot to kill Mordecai was revealed, the king turned the tables completely and Haman was killed and displayed in the same manner he had sought to humiliate Mordecai. It was payback time for Haman. All of his carefully laid plans fell on him with a vengeance. His wealth and lands would be turned over to Esther, who then revealed her relationship to Mordecai as she transferred the day to day operations of running Haman’s old estate to him. The king’s original edict could not be taken back, but the king arranged for another edict allowing the Jews to protect themselves and for the forces of government to protect them as well. The words of Mordecai that God would send deliverance one way or another came true.
As Christians we aren’t supposed to be about payback. We are supposed to focus on forgiveness and grace. That being said, it is hard to fight back that sense of satisfaction when those who work against God’s plans end up having to deal with major problems because they sought to fight against God’s people. And when people fight against God’s plans; when they seek to destroy God’s people; they will ultimately fail. God will bring deliverance. It might take a while to happen. It might happen after a lot of God’s people suffer. It will happen. When we see payback happening to our enemies we might smile a bit at first. Ultimately, though, we need to rise above that payback and offer mercy and grace to the person who is suffering the natural consequences of their sins. Yes, it will probably be rejected by those who are stubborn and prideful, but if someone is softened and realizes how wrong they were, we may bring them into the Kingdom of God. Jesus died on the cross for them too, even knowing what they would do.
Lord God, so many in this world have evil intentions. They hate You. They hate Your people. They seek to destroy Your people and their witness in this world. Stop them, we pray. Let them deal with the natural results of their sins. But then, Lord, use us as Your people, to deliver the message of grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Bring them into Your kingdom.