Lafayette Baptist Association
Lafayette Baptist Association
Heart Matters...with Angie Land
"Don’t get mad…get even." A popular idea no doubt, but how well does this concept work and what does it really accomplish when it comes to our relationships? At first glance, we like this saying because it gives us the illusion that we are in control of a painful situation. In reality, by not communicating with someone who has offended us, we operate on the assumption that his or her offense was intentional. We believe they actually meant us harm. Think about times when you discovered that you had hurt someone's feelings or offended them…you were probably surprised because rarely is it our motive to do so. More often we hurt other people as a result of an unintentional action or an unplanned or thoughtless comment. I believe this is the case in the majority of offenses, and based on that, getting even would be anything but. You can’t arrive at even by adding an unintentional offense to a well-planned retaliation. Unfortunately, revenge usually leads to a retaliation of its own and the vicious payback cycle continues. This very often brings death to many relationships, friendships and marriages.
In the book of Romans 12:17,19-20, the Bible addresses this issue: “Do not repay evil for evil. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
According to this verse, we are not to “get even” by repaying evil for evil. Only God knows the intentions of a person’s heart, so maybe that’s a good reason to leave the avenging up to him. In the original Greek language of the New Testament, the word “avenge” actually means to get justice. God is the only One qualified to judge a heart and pronounce a just, unprejudiced sentence.
The last part of this passage is most interesting, so before you go planning to put hot coals on someone’s head let’s understand what this refers to. According to an ancient Egyptian tradition, a person desiring to exhibit a public display of repentance would carry a pan of burning charcoal on their head. By referring to this practice, the apostle Paul is saying that we should treat those who have offended us or caused us pain with kindness. By doing so, it is more likely they will become ashamed of the way they treated you, repent, and change their ways. That would be a much more productive way of restoring a relationship…and if their offense was unintentional, you haven’t caused a much bigger one. So, if you start plotting revenge, remember that it's best to leave that up to God. The people that we love are worth this effort and so our own hearts…because they matter.
Heart Matters is a weekly column written by Angie Land, Director of the Family Life Ministries of the Lafayette Baptist Association, where she teaches bible studies, leads marriage and family conferences and offers biblical counseling to individuals, couples and families. Contact Angie with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org