God really is a genius. The Bible describes God as the source of all wisdom and knowledge. This makes sense, since God is described as the author of the universe; thus, everything that exists, even the world of ideas, would have to have God as its ultimate source.

Paul writes,

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

(Romans 12:19)

Why is it that God’s justice is best? Because he knows everything about the situation; when human beings look at a situation, a conflict, a crime, we see it only partially, through a glass darkly. We see it through our own prejudices and experiences. We do not know all the details, we do not know what was going on in the minds of those involved. There is more we don’t know than we do, and what we do is filtered rather than objective. Our justice system has many checks and balances in place to try to arrive at justice, but it is not perfect. It never can be perfect, because people are not perfect.

But God is not so limited. The Psalmist writes,

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

(Psalm 139:2-4)

Jeremiah, the prophet tells us,

“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”

(Jeremiah 17:10)

Unlike pundits and Monday morning quarterbacks, God actually knows the reason someone says or does what they do; he understands it, and he can and will react accordingly and appropriately where we will often fail.

The whole context now of the “do not take revenge” passage quoted above:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

(Romans 12:17-21)

As Christians, it is not our job to seek revenge or to get even. We are human and we will do it wrong. Leave it in God’s hands. What we can do, as human beings, is to be kind and loving. That’s harder for us to screw up.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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