January 30, 2010
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. Romans 12:19
Today, as I drove in to work, I fellow cut into my lane of traffic. He didn't look, and I'm pretty sure he didn't know I was there.
I was mad and I was just about ready to lay on the horn when I remembered a story an old preacher told me when I first started in the ministry.
The pastor told me about a farmer in his congregation who had frequently been pestered by a carload of young folks -- young folks who delighted in sneaking over his orchard fence and playing havoc with his apples without asking permission.
Eventually, the farmer caught the youngsters red handed and full mouthed.
Quickly swallowing a chunk of golden delicious, one of the apple thieves sheepishly smiled and said, "We hope you don't mind we took a few of your apples."
"No, not at all," said the farmer, who was also smiling. He continued, "And I hope you don't mind I took some of the air out of your tires."
Honestly -- that story changed my life.
That farmer did more than take some air out of a few tires. He has taken some of the air out of me. Every time I'm ready to get back at somebody for a real or imagined hurt they've done to me, the face of that farmer shows up in my mind.
He shows up and I have to calm down. That's probably good. After all, revenge seldom helps the people I'm angry at, and it insults the memory, example, and wishes of my Savior.
You see, Jesus who gave Himself to save us never paid people back for the evil they did to Him. On the contrary He tried to bring them closer, call them to repentance, and offer them forgiveness.
And -- if I read today's Scripture correctly -- we're supposed to avoid revenge and leave the score settling to the Lord.
From a devotion originally written for "By the Way"
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, how blessed we are to have a Savior who forgives our poor choices and our bad attitudes. Now, may I, one of Your forgiven children, share that forgiveness with others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries