“Criminals should be punished, not fed pastries.”
– Lemony Snicket
It’s human nature; we want people to get their just deserts (not just desserts). We want them to feel the negative effects of their misdeeds. We want them to suffer for their actions. We want them to pay.
Ten Verses for When You Feel Retaliatory
While I fully agree that criminals should be punished, I believe that retaliation is a different problem. God ordained government to keep order and peace, but He did not call us as individuals to seek revenge. In fact, His Word instructs us to forgive and do good to those who mistreat us.
Like Christ, Christians should be characterized by humility. As I look through God’s Word, I see three results of true humility. First, humble people are concerned with the welfare of others. Because of their concern for others, humble people seek reconciliation instead of revenge.
1. Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
2. Philippians 2:3
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves
Second, humble people live in peace because they realize that conflict leads to destruction.
3. Hebrews 12:14-15
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
4. Galatians 5:15
If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
5. I Peter 3:8-9
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Lastly, humble people do not respond with human anger. Christ showed in Matthew 21:12-17 that anger is not always sinful. However, anger is sinful when it is rooted in selfishness and pride. Humble people recognize that selfish anger does not lead to godliness.
6. Colossians 3:8
But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: selfish anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
7. Ephesians 4:26
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
8. James 1:20-21
because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
I will be the first to admit that forgiveness is not my strength. But as God sanctifies me, I will strive to forgive as He forgave me.
9. Romans 12:21
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
10. Proverbs 19:11
A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.