Ooh, you’re angry.
You want to let them have it . . . a full-blown verbal attack. Or even better, you could tell your friends. Really, people should know. It could protect them in the future.
And it would feel so good.
Because . . . well, this was just wrong and you’re furious!
I’ve been there.
Hasn’t everyone wanted a little revenge on occasion?
But the funny thing is—any time I’ve gone ahead and used my verbal scalpel or told anyone who will listen about the injustice I’ve received . . . it didn’t help. In fact, I ended up feeling worse not better.
Not one time has my decision to get even ever worked the way it was supposed to.
We live in a sinful world and anger is a normal part of it, but as followers of Jesus, you and I have been told to not let anger become sin.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians…
If you are angry, do not let it become sin. Get over your anger before the day is finished. v. 4:26
Just how is that supposed to work? Seriously?
I believe two things are essential if we want to avoid sin when we’re angry.
Prayer and Patience!
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies. But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you. Matthew 5:43–44
You have to begin with prayer. Immediately. Oh, I wish I could remember this. As I feel the blood start to rush as my pulse quickens . . . I want my first reaction to be prayer. Because with God’s help it is so much easier to remember:
Be Patient – it’s Better than Getting Even
1. Patience can give you time to think rationally about the problem.
Stop. Breathe. Pray. It will give you time to think through the situation. Maybe the person had a terrible day. Maybe they misread the situation. Maybe they’re just mean and you’re not going to change them. Whatever the reasons . . . stopping to think before you react will help you follow Jesus words from Matthew 5:
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.” v. 38–39
Remember, your patient love and forgiveness will show others God’s patient love and forgiveness.
2. Patience will help you learn from the experience.
There is always something to learn. Always. Knowing how to deal with difficult people is an important life skill. There will always be people who hurt or upset you, and knowing how to respond is essential. An angry outburst or any form of revenge can blow up a career or ruin a relationship. And you just might miss out on something you needed to learn.
And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. Romans 5:4–5
3. Patience makes it possible for you to move forward positively.
You can’t let go of what happened until you let go! (I know. Profound. Right?) But angry words and/or actions just prolong the problem and make it harder to move on through forgiveness.
“It is commonly said that revenge is sweet, but to a calm and considerate mind, patience and forgiveness are sweeter.” ~Isaac Barrow
4. Patience with understanding may help you realize this isn’t about you.
If you’ve ever brought a bad day home with you or experienced a little road rage on your commute, you know that often ugliness happens because we’re upset about something else. Stopping to breathe, pray, and think will often help you understand the real source of the problem.
“The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.” ~Marcus Aurelius
5. Patience gives the wound time to heal.
The size of the wound often determines the amount of time it takes to heal. Be patient with yourself. Be patient with the people around you who may not understand. Spend time in God’s presence and allow Him to calm your spirit and heal your heart.
“Comfort experiences the presence of God in the presence of suffering—a presence that empowers me to survive scars and plants the seed of hope that I will yet thrive.” ~Dr. Robert Kelleman
6. Patience is obedience.
Always be humble, gentle, and patient, accepting each other in love. Ephesians 4:2
I know. Sometimes you just don’t want to be humble and patient. You feel justified in being angry and hurt. And more than that, you are positive the offender deserves your payback. You may be right. But you won’t be obedient.
Just something to think about…
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. Romans 12:17–19
7. Patience trusts God to take care of it.
Your Father loves you! He wants what’s best for you! He is able to accomplish His will for you. Let Him handle it. You simply speak the truth with kindness.
I’m not suggesting you become a someone’s personal punching bag. It’s perfectly okay to let someone know their words or actions are hurtful, but the rest . . . leave it to God.
Don’t say, “I’ll pay you back for the wrong you did.” Wait for the Lord, and He will make things right. Proverbs 20:22
I know! It’s hard. And you may even be thinking it’s impossible or I don’t want to!
I understand. Believe me, I’ve been there.
It’s just that this love of Jesus. This patient love. It works.
So, stop, breath, pray, and remember patience is love.
“Forgive and give as if it were your last opportunity. Love like there’s no tomorrow, and if tomorrow comes, love again.” ~Max Lucado
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