How to Hurt Yourself
March 30, 2009 • By Ed Wrather
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. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” - Romans 12:18-20 NKJV.
So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s wrath subsided. - Esther 7:10 NKJV.
In Bithlo, Florida, Craig Aylesworth had a little dispute with his neighbor and things got a little crazy. Craig made a gasoline bomb, and threw it at his neighbor’s mobile home. The bomb did explode, but in what must have been an act of God, the wind changed. Instead of the neighbor’s trailer being burned up; Craig’s pickup, a couple of his cars, and his travel trailer were set on fire by the bomb. Officers investigating think that alcohol may have been involved.
In the Old Testament, is a somewhat similar story of how a plan of revenge backfired. In the book of Esther, we are told of the wicked Haman and the righteous Mordecai. Haman was jealous of Mordecai, and Haman was a power hungry, greedy man who would do anything for power and wealth. It was Haman’s plan for the Jews to be destroyed and for their property to be taken. It was Haman’s plan for Mordecai to be hung, and he even had the gallows built for Mordecai’s hanging. God’s placement of Esther as the new queen, and her courage in approaching the king with the evil of Haman’s plan thwarted it all; and Haman ended up being hung instead of Mordecai.
When we try to get even with, or get back at others, often we only succeed in hurting ourselves. Craig Aylesworth and Haman both did a good job of hurting themselves, instead of their intended victims.
Instead of our taking the matter of revenge into our own hands, we are told “do not avenge yourselves.” Instead of getting even, we are told to “as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Instead of hurting our enemies, we are told to “feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink.” David took this path in his relationship with King Saul. David refused to kill his enemy because Saul was the Lord’s anointed. Here’s what David said to Abishai one of his mighty men who wanted to kill Saul, “‘Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?’ David said furthermore, ‘As the Lord lives, the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish (1 Samuel 26:9-10).’” David had faith that God would take care of King Saul when the right time came and that it would only bring guilt on himself by killing Saul.
When Judas came with the chief priests, elders and a great number of people armed with swords and clubs to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword ready to fight. However, Jesus said this, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus? (Matthew 26:52-54).” Jesus could have utterly destroyed his physical enemies, but instead He willingly went to the cross suffering and dying for the sins of all people; past, present, and future - by refusing to fight back Jesus eternally defeated death.
Revenge belongs to God and when we try to get back at someone we are inviting disaster into our lives. Let go of the wrongs that have been committed against you, and place them into the hands of God; when you do so, you will have peace, and the blessing of God upon your life.