Human nature leans toward revenge when we or someone we love have been hurt deeply. But, revenge is never the best solution to take when we have been hurt because it leads to new problems that sometimes put in a situation that is just as bad or worse. Yesterday, I explored the first part of the story where Shechem raped Jacob's daughter, Dinah. After raping her, he fell in love with her and wanted to marry her. The problem was the order of things; he first was only following his desires and didn't care about how he was hurting Dinah. He and his dad pleaded with Jacob and Dinah's brothers to allow Shechem to marry Dinah, which is where we will pick up the story today. Please read Genesis 34:13-31.
In these verses, we see so many problems! First, yesterday I mentioned that when we are following our human desires we will be hurting more than ourselves. Not only was Dinah hurt, but her entire family was affected. Shechem's rash actions led to all the men in his city being killed and the women and children taken into captivity. Second, we see that Jacob's wealth was a point of desire for the entire town and they would do whatever it took to have a share of that wealth. Third, we see that there were undesired consequences to the revenge that was dished out. Jacob pointed out that because of their vengeful actions, they would probably have to leave the area in order for the family to be safe.
Revenge is never the solution. Revenge wasn't helping Dinah to heal or gain back her virginity. I guess in a sense it let Dinah see how valued she was among her brothers; however, they could have shown that to her in other ways. Revenge meant that their family would no longer be welcomed in that area. Revenge is just another form of acting out of our human desires. The problem is that God says that is not something that we are to take into our own hands. Romans 12:18-20 (NLT) says, "Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, 'I will take revenge; I will pay them back,' says the Lord. Instead, 'If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.'"
The thing that I have learned so strongly is that when I do not act on my desire for revenge and instead trust that God will take care of it, something happens to my heart. I have just opened my heart for forgiveness. When are hearts are focused on revenge, we will be bound by bitterness and rage. We are able to forgive when we give up our right for vengeance and give it to God. But that isn't the response that makes a lot of sense to the world. Revenge makes sense because it appears to be seeking justice. However, it is important to remember that revenge and justice are not equal. Besides, who among us is perfect enough to claim that they deserve no punishment? If we define justice according to revenge's standards, we would all be condemned to death; but God in His amazing and expanse love chose forgiveness instead. Because of Jesus's willingness to die even though He was perfect, we have been given a new life. So, if God's response to us is forgiveness through Christ, what should our response be?
Are you seeking vengeance for a past hurt, or are you willing to die to that desire and give it to God?
This post is linked with Spiritual Sundays.