Not everybody is likable. We all have others that drive us crazy on the inside with their annoying habits or ungodly ways of life. But sometimes we might experience much more than being irritated. Raging vitriol that results in verbal persecution; becoming the targets of evil intent; and, in some cases, finding ourselves victims of violence done to us or a loved one can stretch our Christian sensibilities to their maximum. It is understandable that in such cases we would be upset, angry, in grief, and desire justice.
As we reflect back on Reformation Day and the great truth that we are justified apart from any work of our own but by grace alone through faith, this helps to give understanding as to why we do not take vengeance into our own hands. We are clearly exhorted in this passage of Holy Scripture to “repay no one evil for evil” because “vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” If justification is a work of God to rescue and redeem sinners from their plight, then wrath is also a work of God. Just as to be justified is initiated and made possible through Christ by faith, so vengeance belongs to God, as well. Our part in the whole affair is to trust God that he will take care of judging the world. Judgment is way above our pay grade.
What is within our purview is showing love, even to those whom we consider enemies. If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, then we will leave plenty of room for God to do what God does best: either show mercy to sinners; or, execute judgment upon them. It is really all his business what he does with his creatures. Our business is coming under the lordship of Christ and allowing God’s new creation to work itself out through us. We are to work for the kind of justice that provides others with what they need, not what they deserve. The world cannot become a better place if we keep insisting on playing judge, jury, and executioner. Sometimes the best way to show love is to sincerely pray for the person for whom we have such difficulty loving. Who do you need to love today?
Just and merciful God, you are the rightful Judge of all the earth. Help me to trust in you to the degree that I can give room for you to do whatever you want to do in others’ lives. I pray you will grace many people with the repentance that leads to new life in Jesus. Amen.