Have you ever been so hurt or betrayed by someone that all you could think of was how to “pay them back” for what they did to you? I know I have. Lately, I’ve been meeting many people who cling to grudges for years. They seek vengeance (revenge), wanting those who hurt them to suffer in the same way. But, wanting, seeking, and carrying out revenge can be cunning and complicated.
I used to believe that showing kindness to those who hurt me was a way to seek revenge based on my interpretation of certain scriptures. In my heart I was saying, “Git ‘em God…burn ‘em up!” I know I am not the only one who had a hissy fit and went into “payback mode.” And this was after having read the following passages of scripture:
Proverbs 25:21-22 Amplified Bible
21-22 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; or in doing so, you will heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord will reward you.
Romans 12:19-20 Amplified Bible
19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.
Give them bread to eat…I hope they choke on it! Give them water to drink…I hope it sends them into a coughing fit!
Oh, how wrong I was. I had not forgiven them. And I didn’t want to forgive them. I held onto my resentment and desired to make God aware of the pain I endured from being mistreated, dishonored, and ignored. Like He didn’t already know.
When I read these passages of scripture, I was so blinded by my pain that I misinterpreted the meaning. I am older now and so much wiser. I now know that I had a heart problem. My human heart has four chambers, and I filled my chambers with hate, unforgiveness, death, and lies instead of love, forgiveness, life, and truth.
The truth is…The Scriptures have much to say about forgiving our enemies. Paul says that if we give food and drink to our enemies, “we shall be heaping coals of fire on their heads.” In the bible lands almost, everything is carried on the head-water jars, baskets of fruit, vegetables, fish or any other article. Those carrying the burden rarely touch it with their hands, and they walk through crowded streets and lanes with perfect ease. In many homes, the only fire they have is kept in a brazier, which they use for simple cooking and for warmth. They plan to always keep it burning. If it should go out, some member of the family will take the brazier to a neighbor’s house to borrow fire. Then she will lift the brazier to her head and start for home. If her neighbor is a generous woman, she will heap the brazier full of coals. To feed an enemy and give him drink was like heaping the empty brazier with live coals, - which meant food, warmth, and almost life itself to the person or home needing it and was a symbol of finest generosity. (Strange Scriptures that Perplex the Western Mind by Barbara M. Bowen)
It really is better to leave “payback” to the Lord. There are two things that He will not share with us: his vengeance and his glory! My job is to love and forgive. And He will not ask me to do anything that He will not help me do. No, I have not arrived yet. I still get hurt and dishonored sometimes, but I am loved and honored by Him all the time! Gimme that brazier and let me heap it with coals!