Doing Odd Things to Get Even

cvslooted  Have you ever heard of someone cutting off their nose to spite their face?  In an effort to get back at others, or teach somebody a lesson, people often wind up inflicting a lot of pain on themselves.  In recent news, we’e seen folks rioting and looting in their own neighborhoods to protest conditions in their own neighborhoods!

The ultimate example of the vindictive self-destroyer may be the suicide bomber.  The bitterness and hatred that could lead a person to blow himself up just to harm those that (he thinks) have harmed him, reveals human vindictiveness for what it often is: vengeance gone stupid.

But most of us don’t have to look at the headlines to find examples of the bitter pill that the world ironically calls “sweet revenge.”  If you’ve ever tried to take it, you probably already know how unfulfilling and damaging it can be.

  Vengeance just does not belong to men; it belongs to God.  “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19).

  One of the means God uses to exact justice is civil government.  God-ordained law enforcement “is God’s minister to you for good… an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:4).  And any injustices in our “justice system” will be rectified when the Lord returns “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

  There appear to be any number of reasons that God has not given individuals the right to avenge themselves.  For one, we aren’t wise enough to determine who deserves to be punished. Nor are we very good at deciding the appropriate degree of punishment to be inflicted.  This is especially true when we are personally involved in a situation.  Our judgment is imperfect at best, and it is often clouded by self-serving prejudice.  But another reason we haven’t been given the right to take vengeance for ourselves, and the main point of this article, is that our efforts to even a score are often so badly botched that they wind up hurting us more than anyone.

  Truly, “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him” (Proverbs 26:27).

  Let us give place to the wrath of God.  The Scriptures promise, “He will repay my enemies for their evil” (Psalm 54:5).   Let’s trust Him.

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The Right Side of History

The attorney general of Virginia recently announced that his state will no longer defend its constitutional ban on gay marriage.   Attorney General Mark Herring said that he wanted to ensure the state was “on the right side of history.”

I’ve heard several similar statements by politicians and media pundits lately.  What do people mean when they say they are deciding their stance on a given issue because they want to be on the “right side of history”?   Do they mean that they are taking a side because they think that it will eventually win or that  posterity will smile on it?  It seems to me that they are admitting to making moral decisions by sticking a finger in the air to see which way the current wind of public opinion is blowing.

One author wrote, “My chief problem with the ‘right side of history’ argument is that it is used as an appeal to the authority of an imagined future that hasn’t even happened yet. It is a way of saying to your opponents: you should give up not because your arguments are wrong but because you will eventually lose anyway. It is an attempt to demoralize your opponents not engage them.” (Jonah Golberg, National Review Online)

For the Bible believer, the right side of history is not determined by outcomes in human affairs.  Abortion, gay marriage and legalized marijuana are not right because they gain acceptance in a culture, anymore than Chairman Mao was on the right side of history when he led his nation into godless communist oppression.

The right side of history will be determined by the judgment of the God of heaven. “For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with His truth” (Psalms 96:13).  “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments” (Revelation 16:7).

The right side of history is the Lord’s side!

All of the people depicted in the mural below believed themselves to be on the right side of history in their day.  Perhaps the only one who was totally on the right side was Jesus Christ.  Many others certainly accomplished great good.  If you click on the picture, your browser will open an interactive window enabling you to identify the people in the mural by placing your mouse on their images. Remember that they all probably thought they were on the right side of history — Hitler, Caligula, Ayatollah Kohmeini — all of them!

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Tapestry of the Centuries, Vladimir Gorsky

— Steve Klein