“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King is uniquely qualified to teach us about the futility of revenge and the ultimate triumph of love. He was unjustly imprisoned, his home was firebombed, and he was assassinated in the prime of life. He had various teachers and mentors in the area of nonviolent protest, but the greatest of them was Christ himself, who triumphed over evil by first bearing its wrath.
Revenge seems sweet and right; it is the plot line in a thousand movies and TV shows. But revenge only provokes the next act of vengeance from the other side. Hating cannot bring peace. “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him’” (Romans 12:19,20). You don’t need to anoint yourself the avenger; God will take care of business in his time.
Choosing to love your enemies is not easy, and it doesn’t always yield visible results right away, but it is the main reason that people of color were finally treated with dignity in our land. It is also the gift given to the human race by the Savior who forgave his enemies from the cross.
Who needs your mercy today?
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.” (Romans 12:19-20 NLT)