Here’s What The Bible Really Says About Getting Revenge

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. The core concept here seems to be that when you’ve been wronged, it’s best to wait, plot some even-more-devious wrong, and inflict it right back on whoever it was that slighted you in the first place.

There’s some logic to this idea, and it’s surely been central to the plot of many great sitcom episodes. Sadly, though, it’s also been central to the motives for many tragic killings. In 2013, for instance, Anxiang Du, doctor of Chinese medicine, was charged with the murders of Jifeng Ding, his wife, and their two children. Facing the loss of a hard-fought legal dispute with the husband and wife, William Harbage of the prosecution stated that the reason for the tragic killings was “simply revenge,” per The Guardian. The issue with revenge is that it’s a slippery slope. What makes one act unjust, and a retaliatory act not so? Here’s what the Bible has to say on this tricky subject.

There's no righteousness in revenge

The Christian God, while a benevolent and all-knowing Lord, is not a deity to underestimate. As Biblica reports, God turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt and dispenses His wrath in countless other dramatic ways throughout the course of the Bible. But Romans 12:19 makes clear that nobody else is to avenge another’s actions, as the Lord holds this authority and nobody is perfect. “Do not take revenge, my dear friends,” it begins, in a wise and turn-the-other-cheek sort of way. It then adds an ominous, “… leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Further, Deuteronomy 32:35 adds: “In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” Don’t, in short, incriminate yourself by stooping to another’s level.

This isn’t to say that the Bible doesn’t mandate believers calling out the sins of their fellows. “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault,” as Matthew 18:15 puts it. Taking revenge, on the other hand, is a judgment, seemingly an imposition on the will and authority of God. Instead, the Bible teaches kindness in the face of adversity, as per Thesallonians 5:15: “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other.”

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