READ : Romans 12:9-21
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God. (v. 19)
In Papua, New Guinea, among the Sawi tribes of the inland jungle, revenge is admired as
one of the highest virtues, a trait to be honored and communally celebrated. Forgiveness
and trust are seen as signs of weakness, traits to be despised. Northern Ireland, South
Africa, Rwanda, Cambodia, and India have provided other examples of national, ethnic, or
communal vengeance that ceaselessly marches on.
The Old Testament speaks directly against this notion of personal and collective retaliation. During the time of the prophet Ezekiel, the nation of Israel suffered tremendous upheaval. The people had plenty of reasons to want revenge. But God said
through his prophet that the Israelites were not to vindicate themselves. God would act on their behalf (Ezek. 25:15-17).
Jesus goes one step farther. Here, passive refusal to retaliate is not enough. Instead, he commands us to love our enemy. Feed him. Give him drink. Overcome evil with good. “For they know not what they have done,” says the Lord. Impossible? Perhaps in human terms, but we are not alone. Christ himself empowers us through the Spirit to be his hands and feet. Pray for peace and reconciliation among the nations.
Jesus, heal the divided nations that your forgiveness might flow.