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Q&A #157 - Forgiving others: Should we also ask God to avenge us?
by Robert Nguyen Cramer (version 220.127.116.11)
This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.
I have really
enjoyed the information you put up. I feel that you can go along way in helping
me in the development of my Christian faith and life
Recently I have had a discussion with a friend on what Christians should do when others wrong them. We both agreed that God is the one who should take the revenge for the Christian, since he said that vengeance is mine. The Christian's role is to forgive and continue to do good to the person who has wronged them. However our point of debate is this: Does the Christian when they pray tell their Lord that ' Lord this person has done this bad thing to me and if you see it fit revenge on my behalf" or do they say nothing about the incident in their prayers except that they have forgiven them?
Further we want to know if there are scriptures, which say that God will use his mighty powers to correct evildoers while they are still alive, or does he wait until they die to judge them according to their acts
May God bless you and give you wisdom as you try to answer this question for me.
Thank you for your very thoughtful email. You discussed "what Christians should do when others wrong them." You are absolutely correct that "the Christian's role is to forgive and continue to do good to the person who has wronged them."
Then you ask, "Does the Christian when he prays tell their Lord, 'Lord, this person has done this bad thing to me, and if you see it fit, revenge on my behalf," or do they say nothing about the incident in their prayers except that they have forgiven them."
God does not need to be informed -- only sought, obeyed, and glorified in our thoughts, words, and lives. Contrary to the accounts of the Old Testament (old covenant) military heroes, in the New Testament (new covenant) in Christ we discover that we are to love and bless all and that the kingdom of God has no walls. In parables, such as the Good Samaritan and others, Jesus helps us see that "the kingdom of God is within you" -- a fact we should cherish as true for everyone. (See Luke 17:20-21.)
The writer of Colossians continues that theme:
8 Now you must get rid of all these things: anger, passion, and hateful feelings. No insults or obscene talk must ever come from your lips. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10 and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11 In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! (Col 3:8-11)
We need to be motivated by love (agape) for all, even when we find it necessary -- silently or verbally -- to rebuke sin in ourselves or others. Paul is a wonderful example of the power of forgiveness. Once a persecutor of Christians, he experienced the power of God's love in Stephen's forgiveness of Paul at the stoning execution of Stephen. (See Acts,7:57-9:20.) Later Paul was to write:
14 Ask God to bless those who persecute you - yes, ask him to bless, not to curse 21 Do not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with good.(Rom 12:14,21)
5 Now, if anyone has made somebody sad, he has not done it to me but to all of you - in part at least. (I say this because I do not want to be too hard on him.) 6 It is enough that this person has been punished in this way by most of you. 7 Now, however, you should forgive him and encourage him, in order to keep him from becoming so sad as to give up completely. 8 And so I beg you to let him know that you really do love him. 9 I wrote you that letter because I wanted to find out how well you had stood the test and whether you are always ready to obey my instructions. 10 When you forgive someone for what he or she has done, I forgive them, too. For when I forgive-if, indeed, I need to forgive anything-I do it in Christ's presence because of you, 11 in order to keep Satan from getting the upper hand of us; for we know what his plans are 16 No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so. 17 When anyone is joined to Christ, he is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. 18 All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. 19 Our message is that God was making all mankind his friends through Christ. God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends. 20 Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ's behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends! (2Co 2:5-11,16-20)
For more references on forgiveness, see:
You also ask if there are scriptures that say that God will use his mighty powers to correct evildoers while they are still alive, or does he wait until they die to judge them according to their acts. To repeat more completely Jesus words that I quoted above:
20 The Kingdom of God does not come in such a way as to be seen. 21 No one will say, "Look, here it is!' or, "There it is!'; because the Kingdom of God is within you. (Luk 17:20-21)
All eventually will face and acknowledge this kingdom of God -- some now, some in the future, some beyond this life. That is not for us to be concerned about. The key to our entrance into -- experiencing -- that kingdom now as the children of God is our gratefully following Jesus and his teachings to love all. As he said:
44 Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your heavenly Father
God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his own purpose. (Philippians 2:13)
Thank you so much for response. I will share it with others in our fellowship group.
I guess I still have some of those attributes I ought to shade off. That is why I think that I have to ask God to revenge for me when people wrong me. My thoughts were based on the fact that we are told in Romans that 'revenge is God's.'
I hope that the good Lord will help grow in faith and understanding.
May God bless you and give you the wisdom to help others seeking similar kind of help.
Your living, loving witness to God's unconditional love (agape) for everyone also witnesses to your being the child of God -- in the image of God. That God-derived love is a power to protect you and to progressively correct whoever/whatever needs to be corrected. Just love, love, love! Your relentlessly forgiving/loving/blessing others does great good and is the most powerful force on earth. As Paul wrote (2Co 10:3-5):
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.
This is done through the same unconditional love that Paul describes so well in 1 Corinthians 13. And perfect love casts out fear, because there is no fear in love, because God is love. (1Jo 4:16,18) It is so wonderful to know that our loving in this way is not by our personal strength or by our personal love, 'because God is always at work in us to make us willing and able to obey his own purpose.' We simply represent His love!
Copyright 1996-2005 Robert Nguyen Cramer