Article 11 Series July 6, 2017

13 Reasons Why Not | Reason 11: Leave Revenge to God.

In Netflix’s startlingly popular 13 Reasons Why, each episode is a letter the main character, Hannah, is writing to people who have hurt her.  Each communication seems to justify her last act of consciousness, the taking her life, in the last episode.  

Picture of a woman standing in front of a tall waterfall.

The grief-stricken horror on Hannah’s mom’s face expresses the sadness all viewers feel when her choice is known.

 

But it didn’t need to happen.  In fact, teen suicide, the second largest killer of teens, doesn’t need to happen.  That’s why I’ve written this blog series entitled 13 Reasons Why Not.  There are reasons to live.  I’ve tried to outline them over the last ten blogs.

 

Here is number eleven: Leave vengeance to God.  He does revenge much better than humans do.  

 

Getting back to Hannah, it appears that her 13 reasons for committing suicide were all wrapped up in a desire for revenge against those who hurt her.  Each letter is a carefully scripted jab at those who hurt her.  Suicide then became her ultimate and final way of poking them all in the eye and saying, “There, take that! You’re the reason I did this!”

 

There is a better much way to handle your hurts.  Paul outlines it in Romans 12:19: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine.  I will repay, says the Lord.’”

 

Do you see what Paul is saying?  He wants you to leave vengeance to the wrath of God.  What does that mean?  It means that God is ticked off when people wrongly hurt others---even more than you are.  He doesn’t like it one bit.  He created us to love our neighbor (Leviticus 19:18).  And he will take vengeance on those who have hurt you.  It may take eternity for the score to be settled, but he will settle the score.  

 

Leave vengeance to God.  He does it better than you do.  Your retaliation will only increase future hostilities.  It will have no end.  Leave it to God.  He loves justice.  It’s an important part of his character.  It will happen.  Have faith he will do it.  

 

Is there anything else that you should do?  Paul says there is.  In the next verse in Romans 12, he says, “To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  

 

Paul was merely echoing Jesus words when he taught his followers to love your enemies, bless those who hurt you, and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).  Jesus too knew all too well the way revenge can escalate to genocide and tribal warfare.  Gandhi was correct when he said that if everyone in the world practices were to practice an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, eventually the entire world will would be sightless and toothless.

 

Leaving justice to God stops escalating retaliation.  It ceases vengeance.  When you then also choose to love your enemy, you give hope for reconciliation and a restored relationship.  That’s what Jesus and Paul were trying to address.

 

When I was tied up, robbed and beaten (an event I shared in an earlier blog post a previous blog), the robbers stole all my basketball championship paraphernalia.  They were priceless to me.

 

At one point during the robbery, the robbers asked me if my rings and watches were sentimentally valuable to me.  I said yes.  They assured me they wouldn’t take them.  

 

After they’d left my house, I’d discovered that they had taken them anyway.  They added insult to injury.  There is indeed no honor among thieves.

 

For some months thereafter, I yearned for the police to capture them so I could have revenge.  They were never caught.  I then prayed and hoped my valuables would show up at a pawn shop or some other place.  They never did.  My heart burned with anger.  I wanted justice.

 

I then realized that my anger and desire for vengeance was only hurting me. Myself.  Allowing my heart to be consumed with bitterness was like drinking arsenic and expecting another person to die.

 

What was my only other option?  I could forgive them.  I could bless them by hoping they’d come into a relationship with Jesus and not face God one day unforgiven of their sins.  And I could choose not to retaliate and leave them to God’s eventual judgment.  

 

I then accepted the promise in the Bible that all will stand before him one day and be held accountable for their lives (Hebrews 9:27).  All means all!  Every person will face God one day.  No one gets off the hook.  I released them to him.  I prayed they’d meet Jesus and know his forgiveness.  And I let it go---casting the care completely in his lap because I knew he cared for me (1 Peter 5:7).

 

When I finally did this, my heart became free from anger.  I was also energized to live as God intended.  I had a new insight into Galatians 5:1, where Paul said it is for freedom that Christ came to set me free.  I was free indeed.

 

I had practiced forgiveness.  It’s giving up my right to have justice when I want it.  It’s refusing to retaliate.  I let God do vengeance.  It’s an enormous faith experiment---and God’s loves it when I practice faith (1 Peter 1:8-9).

 

I wish Hannah could have let go of her bitterness toward her persecutors and let God handle them.  The freedom for which she was seeking could have been discovered.  And she could have lived life as God intended her to live it.

 

Where Hannah failed, you can succeed.  Would you dare release all your hurts, pains, and betrayals to God?  Those who have disappointed you will be judged one day.  Release them to God’s perfect love and justice.  

 

Learn to love them---even those who have hurt you.  Jesus did so with you when you were his enemy, even dying so you could live forever (Romans 5:10).  

 

Love others the way Jesus has loved you (John 13:34-35).

 

Turn those who have hurt you over to God.

 

And be set free to live the abundant life Jesus desires for you (John 10:10).

 

Is there anything else that you should do?  Paul says there is.  In the next verse in Romans 12, he says, “To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  

 

Paul was merely echoing Jesus words when he taught his followers to love your enemies, bless those who hurt you, and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).  Jesus too knew too well the way revenge can escalate to genocide and tribal warfare.  Gandhi was correct when he said that if everyone in the world practices an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, eventually the entire world will be sightless and toothless.

 

Leaving justice to God stops escalating retaliation.  It ceases vengeance.  When you then also choose to love your enemy, you give hope for reconciliation and a restored relationship.  That’s what Jesus and Paul were trying to address.

 

When I was tied up, robbed and beaten (an event I shared in a previous blog), the robbers stole all my basketball championship paraphernalia.  They were priceless to me.  

 

At one point during the robbery, the robbers asked me if my rings and watches were sentimentally valuable to me.  I said yes.  They assured me they wouldn’t take them.  

 

After they’d left my house, I’d discovered that they had taken them anyway.  They added insult to injury.  There is indeed no honor among thieves.

 

For some months thereafter, I yearned for the police to capture them so I could have revenge.  They were never caught.  I then prayed and hoped my valuables would show up at a pawn shop or some other place.  They never did.  My heart burned with anger.  I wanted justice.

 

I then realized that my anger and desire for vengeance was only hurting myself.  Allowing my heart to be consumed with bitterness was like drinking arsenic and expecting another person to die.

 

What was my only other option?  I could forgive them.  I could bless them by hoping they’d come into a relationship with Jesus and not face God one day unforgiven of their sins.  And I could choose not to retaliate and leave them to God’s eventual judgment.  

 

I then accepted the promise in the Bible that all will stand before him one day and be held accountable for their lives (Hebrews 9:27).  All means all!  Every person will face God one day.  No one gets off the hook.  I released them to him.  I prayed they’d meet Jesus and know his forgiveness.  And I let it go---casting the care completely in his lap because I knew he cared for me (1 Peter 5:7).

 

When I finally did this, my heart became free from anger.  I was also energized to live as God intended.  I had a new insight into Galatians 5:1, where Paul said it is for freedom that Christ came to set me free.  I was free indeed.

 

I had practiced forgiveness.  It’s giving up my right to have justice when I want it.  It’s refusing to retaliate.  I let God do vengeance.  It’s an enormous faith experiment---and God’s loves it when I practice faith (1 Peter 1:8-9).

 

I wish Hannah could have let go of her bitterness toward her persecutors and let God handle them.  The freedom for which she was seeking could have been discovered.  And she could have lived life as God intended her to live it.

 

Where Hannah failed, you can succeed.  Would you dare release all your hurts, pains, and betrayals to God?  Those who have disappointed you will be judged one day.  Release them to God’s perfect love and justice.  

 

Learn to love them---even those who have hurt you.  Jesus did so with you when you were his enemy, even dying so you could live forever (Romans5:10).  

 

Love others the way Jesus has loved you (John 13:34-35).

Turn those who have hurt you over to God.

And be set free to live the abundant life Jesus desires for you (John 10:10).

 

Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord.

Romans 12:19 (ESV)

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