Many believers find it difficult to obey Christ’s command which says, “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Nevertheless, we know that all the commands of the Lord, without exception, must be obeyed. Those who neglect this command fail to realise that rather than make things better, revenge worsens situations. Studies in America have shown that while at least 20 percent of the homicide cases are driven by revenge, over 60 percent of school shootings are attributable to revenge.
Today’s text contains the bitter revenge of Joab against Abner because he killed Asahel, his (Joab’s) brother in battle. Joab and the others in David’s army had just returned with great spoils from battle against the house of Saul. Joab was not happy that David had hosted Abner and sent him away peacefully. He summed up Abner’s visit to David as that of an enemy coming to spy on his plans. And without David’s knowledge, Joab sent his servants to bring Abner back to Hebron. Pretending that he wanted to discuss with Abner, Joab took him aside and killed him in cold blood.
People who exact revenge in an attempt to regain peace, end up losing their peace. Revenge aggravates the effect of the actual wrong done in the mind of those who take that course of action. On the other hand, not taking revenge enables you to find a better way to cope with the wrong done through forgiveness. The price of revenge is a lifetime of sorrow and regret.
Jesus was emphatic in prescribing forgiveness to those that offend us and avoiding retaliation under any pretence. Whatever the offense of people against us, we are to freely forgive and leave the judgment to God. More significantly, the Lord made forgiving others a pre-condition for receiving forgiveness from God. It is that important.
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