I want to be one of the avengers. That feeling is especially strong today, as our nation waits to see what further acts of insurrection will occur at the hand of political insurgents—and their behind-the-scenes enablers. These folks deserve retribution—punishment that matches their injustices. I’ll admit it: I’d like to be part of that payback.
Some deeper truths bring me up short, though…
Justice is needed, not vengeance.
The consequences of evil involve just punishment, meted out fairly by God-ordained instruments of justice. Elected and appointed by society, law enforcement personnel hold as a sacred, solemn obligation their responsibility for identifying and punishing evil. They’re doing that work right now.
Because evil is a denial of God’s authority, God has the ultimate right to punish.
I can trust God’s insistence on righting wrong and punishing evildoers. For me to take charge of righteous retribution would be wrong. Revenge is not a righteous calling. I’m not God.
Vengeance ruins those who are vengeful.
Those who take onto themselves the mantle of avengers pay a price—consequences that pull them away from God’s will. Vengeance requires reactive retribution. This cycle of revenge repeats itself, sometimes over generations. It tears apart the enterprises and institutions that contribute to our mutual well-being. If I fill my life with vengeful thoughts and actions, I will become trapped in that mindset, perhaps unable to find other, more Christ-like attitudes.
What’s left for me to do? To call for truth-based justice—a godly virtue beyond the angry havoc of vengeance. To thank God for those whose lifework is identifying and punishing evil. To hone my mediation and listening skills. To pray for those for whom vengeance has become their identity. To remain courageous in the face of violence.
That’s my calling now….
*Hebrews 10:30 (NRSV) The context here is both fearsome and comforting—worth reading in several translations!