Definition: Desire to pay back injury for injury. Vengeance and vengefulness come from the same root word and have very similar meanings. Vengeance is defined as: “Punishment given in return for an injury or offense.” Vengefulness is: “Desire for revenge.” Vindictiveness means: “Prone to seek revenge.”
1. Revenge is born of hate and spite.
* 1 Kings 19:1,2 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets [of the false god Baal] with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
* 2 Chronicles 16:7,9b,10 And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. 9b Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars. 10 Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.
* Esther 3:6 And he [Haman] thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.
* Ezekiel 25:15,16a,17 [God will rebuke the evil revengers.] Thus saith the Lord God; Because the Philistines have dealt by revenge, and have taken vengeance with a despiteful heart, to destroy it for the old hatred; 16a Therefore thus saith the Lord God; … 17 And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall lay My vengeance upon them.
* Mark 6:17-19 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. 18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. 19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him [John the Baptist], and would have killed him; but she could not. [See also verses 20-25 and Matthew 14:3-8.]
* Acts 5:33 [Peter and some other apostles preached to the high priest and his council:] When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.
* Acts 23:12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.
2. Revenge is un-Christian and is expressly forbidden in God’s Word.
* Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.
* Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
* Matthew 5:38,39 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I [Jesus] say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
* Luke 9:54-56a And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from Heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? 55 But He turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56a For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.
* John 18:10,11 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. 11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?
* Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
* James 5:9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
3. Those who seek revenge bring more trouble upon themselves.
* Proverbs 11:17 The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel [unmerciful or vengeful] troubleth his own flesh.
* Proverbs 24:17,18a Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: 18 Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him.
* Mark 11:26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in Heaven forgive your trespasses. [See also Matthew 6:15.]
* Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
* James 2:13a For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy.
4. The godly solution is to return good for evil.
* Exodus 23:4,5 If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. 5 If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.
* 2 Kings 6:21,22 And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite them? Shall I smite them? 22 And he answered, Thou shalt not smite them: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.
* Proverbs 25:21,22 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: 22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee. [See also Romans 12:20.]
* Matthew 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I [Jesus] say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect. [See also Luke 6:27,28,32-36.]
* 1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
* 1 Peter 3:9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
* 1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity [love] among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
5. When tempted to seek revenge, commit the situation and wrong-doers to the Lord.
* Proverbs 20:22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and He shall save thee.
* Hosea 12:6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.
* Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
* 1 Peter 2:19,21-23 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: 23 Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.
6. When we are filled with God’s love, it is impossible for us to be vengeful, and vice versa.
* Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
* Matthew 6:22,23 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! [See also Luke 11:34.]
* 1 Corinthians 13:4a,7 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
* Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.
* Ephesians 4:31,32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
* 1 John 2:9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
7. Showing forgiveness and mercy is better than revenge, because it brings on God’s blessing.
* Psalm 18:25 With the merciful Thou wilt shew Thyself merciful; with an upright man Thou wilt shew Thyself upright.
* Proverbs 3:3,4 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: 4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
* Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
* Matthew 6:12,14 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.
* Mark 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
* Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.
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