Vigilante Injustice

Romans 12:19-21 NET - Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 12:20 Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This passage often boils down to a simple choice when you are wronged by others - including other Christians:  will I let God take care of it, or will I take matters into my own hands?  It takes faith to trust God to defend you.  It takes patience to allow “a lie or an injustice to circle the world while the truth is still getting it’s boots on.”  Strong Christian living is rooted in love and faith, which means not only trusting God but also going the extra mile and loving an enemy.  But how can you do that when it’s so obvious you have been wronged - especially if it’s by another Christian?  Convert your rage or bitterness into pity.  Pity anyone who could behave so cruelly or irrationally or hatefully.  Think about it?  Would you rather be the one who is so dysfunctional and sinfully broken that you would treat another person like they have treated you?  Absolutely not.  Better to be the recipient than the victimizer.  Anger and grudges are hard to hold toward those whose miserable mindsets you can truly feel sorry for.  It’s also legitimate to feel pity for those who have done you dirty, knowing that God will avenge you in His way and time.  God’s wrath should be a scarier prospect than your wrath, and it can actually bring about a better outcome.  Christian living will seek to overwhelm the wrongdoers with good.  This may affect their consciences, expose their evil, and reveal God to them.  Taking vengeance as a vigilante only causes the Christian to become overwhelmed by evil.  A vigilante does not have the recognized right or authority to execute a criminal, otherwise he becomes one himself.  The Christians who practice malicious revenge upon those who have done them wrong are usurping the authority of God as the only Avenger and Judge.  That’s why blessing your enemies by doing good to them is the prescription when tempted to avenge yourself.  Think about it… Which takes greater strength - defending and avenging yourself in the heat of emotion or refusing to defend and avenge yourself while trusting God to take care of things?  Jesus absorbed injustice, lies, cruelty, and hatred without giving it back.  Christ in us will empower you to go and do likewise.  As the old James Cleveland song lyrics remind us:

If I hold my peace, let the Lord fight my battles;

I know that the victory, victory shall be mine.

If I walk upright, all my battles He will fight;

I know that the victory, victory shall be mine.