What Does The Bible Say About Revenge?
What Does the Bible Say?
Brother Todd  

What Does The Bible Say About Revenge

What Does the Bible Say About Revenge

There are over 405 movies with the word “revenge” in the title. There are also hundreds of TV shows whose title includes the word. Even if “revenge” isn’t in the title, the theme of revenge is either the main plot or a side plot of thousands of true and fictitious stories. Why is culture so infatuated with revenge?

From R rated movies with gory scenes of murderous, even tortuous vengeful climax to children’s movies where the bad guy is somehow shamed and punished. 

In these tv programs or movies, the viewer is hoping that the good guys will avenge the bad guys. Revenge seems so right, it seems like the just thing to do, it seems so satisfying. But is it? 

In the 2019 Disney animated film, Frozen 2, Anna and Elsa embark on a journey to discover the source of Elsa’s magical powers and save their kingdom. Along the way, they confront a vengeful fire spirit, who seeks revenge on the inhabitants of Arendelle for a past injustice. Ultimately, Elsa must use her powers to quench the fire spirit’s anger and restore peace to Arendelle. The movie has several other examples of revenge, such as when Kristoff confronts a group of thugs who had earlier attacked him and his reindeer. 

Another example of revenge in a PG movie is the 1999 comedy-drama, 10 Things I Hate About You. In the movie, Kat Stratford is determined to get revenge on her shallow and superficial classmate, Joey Donner, after he makes fun of her sister. She plots to make him fall in love with her and then publicly reject him, but eventually learns that revenge isn’t as satisfying as she had thought it would be. 

Revenge is a powerful emotion that often motivates one to bring pain, suffering, and even inflict harm on someone that has hurt them or their loved ones. Revenge makes us feel a sense of justice, a sense of payback, and a place to give full vent to our anger. To take revenge is to exact punishment in return for a wrong or injury.  

The point is that it is no surprise that human beings the world over have popularized the act of taking revenge on others and see it as an acceptable even normal behavior. When people wrong us, our first instinct is to take revenge. Normally, the act of revenge makes things worse for both parties. The Bible tells us that it is not our place to seek revenge – only God has the right to do so. His vengeance comes from a holy place, not out of hate or pride. Hebrews 10:30 says, “For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’” We must remember never to seek revenge against another, no matter how much they hurt us.

In the Old Testament, the book of Leviticus states, “Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people but love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:18). This verse is often taken as one of the fundamental teachings of the Bible, showing that revenge and grudges are not acceptable behaviors for believers. 

The New Testament also addresses revenge in many Bible verses. In Romans 12:19-21, it says, “Do not take revenge, my dear 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.’ Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” This passage shows us that it is not up to us to exact revenge, but instead it is God’s job to do so and as in all things we should leave it up to God to have the final say.

We should be focused on showing kindness and mercy, even to those who have wronged us. When dealing with feelings of revenge, Christians must remember that it is not our place to take matters into our own hands. Instead, we should trust in God and His justice and focus on forgiving others. Revenge only leads to more hurt and anger, whereas forgiveness can bring healing and peace. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Therefore, if we want forgiveness from God, we must be willing to forgive others. The Bible is clear that revenge and grudges are unacceptable for followers of Christ. We must put our trust in God and His justice and focus instead on showing mercy and kindness towards those who have wronged us. Forgiveness brings healing and peace. It is essential for us to practice forgiveness just as we ask God to forgive us of our sins. 

What the Bible Teaches Us about Revenge

God is a just God and He will make sure that those who do wrong are punished in His own time and in His own way. We see this throughout the Bible, as God often brings about justice in ways that we could never have imagined. For example, in the story of Joseph and his brothers, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery out of jealousy. However, years later, when Joseph had become the powerful ruler of Egypt, he had the opportunity to take revenge on his brothers. But instead, he forgave them and showed them mercy. In doing so, he demonstrated the character of God and His perfect justice.

The Bible also teaches us that revenge is not always sweet. In the book of Esther, we see the story of Haman, who sought to destroy all the Jews in the Persian empire. He wanted to take revenge because Mordecai didn’t bow to him. However, his plans were thwarted, and he was ultimately hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai, the Jew whom he hated. 

Ultimately, the Bible teaches us that revenge is best left to God. He is the only one who can truly bring about justice. When we seek revenge, we are only satisfying our own desires and not living according to God’s will. Even if we don’t see justice, we can be assured that his judgements are righteous and that when they stand before the King they will be judged accordingly. 

The Bible teaches us that revenge is not something that we should seek or take into our own hands. Instead, we are to trust in God and His perfect justice. It is God’s responsibility to take revenge and He will do so in His own time and in His own way. We should focus on showing kindness and mercy to those who have wronged us, as this is what God desires from us. Revenge can only lead to more pain and suffering, whereas forgiveness can bring healing and peace. Therefore, if we want forgiveness from God, we must be willing to forgive others. 

There are many reasons why revenge is harmful to a Christian, some of the most notable reasons include the negative spiritual, mental, and even physical health effects it can have on an individual. Seeking revenge can lead to an increase in stress and anxiety, which can take a toll on a person’s physical and mental health. Additionally, revenge can lead to feelings of resentment and bitterness, which can damage relationships and hinder personal growth. Revenge will consume your life and ruin it. What happens if your plans for revenge fail? You’ll be in an even bigger mess. If they succeed, you could still end up in a real mess too. Plus, you’ll need to live with yourself. 

Hollywood makes it seem like revenge is one final act and that scores are finally settled forever. Reality is not that way. The story of the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s sadly denotes this truth. Their family feud went on intensely for more than 30 years. Around sixty deaths were attributed to the feud. Dozens of family members went to prison, some for life, and one was even executed. Revenge turned into an all-out war between two families that now for all of history are tied together. You can’t say Hatfield for very long without saying McCoy. Surely you don’t want your name to be tied together in history with someone that you feel you need to take revenge on. Thankfully, today many Hatfields and McCoys have reconciled. God has done a redemptive, reconciling work in both families, because that’s what God does. 

Jesus’ answer was not to take revenge, but to “turn the other cheek”. To consider even your enemy as one whom you should love. Instead of being revenge takers we work towards reconciliation. Jesus calls his followers to be peace makers. 

A Prayer for Dealing with a Vengeful Spirit:

Dear Lord, we come to you today asking for help in dealing with a vengeful spirit. We know that revenge is not of you. But sometimes it is so hard to let go of the hurt that we have experienced, and the temptation to lash out in revenge is strong. Help us to remember that you are the ultimate judge and that you will vindicate us in your own time and in your own way. Help us to trust in you, and to let go of our need for revenge. Give us strength to forgive those who have wronged us, and to love them even as you love us. Help us to see them the way you do, and to remember your love and mercy for us. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Aren’t even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?” – Matthew 5:44-47

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and they remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” – Matthew 5:22-24

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9

Whoever strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other one also. Whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” Luke 6:29

In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” Ephesians 4:26 

Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.” Proverbs 24:29

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil.” Romans 12:14-20

For Further Reading:

What Does The Bible Say About Tithing?

What Does The Bible Say About Complaining?

What Does The Bible Say About Jealousy?

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