Do not repay anyone evil for evil…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…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- Romans 12:17,19,21
It's a sign of trust, a huge sign of trust. All of us have been hurt. Hurt deeply. People have wronged us, mistreated our loved ones, made our lives miserable. It's natural to want to get back at them. But Jesus called his followers to be different. We are to overcome evil with good, and trust God to take care of justice. And that takes a lot of trust.
But even greater, Jesus showed us that love and mercy is a powerful force that can change the world. His people, the descendants of Abraham, expected the Messiah to come and bring his kingdom with military might. But he surprised them. Instead of wrath, he came with love. Instead of power, he came with sacrifice. And in doing so, he changed the entire course of history.
How powerful is that message? Check out this scene from a popular TV show, Person of Interest. The cop in this scene, Lionel Fusco, has found the person who murdered his partner and friend. Furthermore, he has in his past a tendency to take justice into his own hands without any effect on his conscience. Everything about him screams that he will now take his revenge. Watch what happens:
Mercy is a powerful force. This man's friend Joss Carter changed him before she was shot down in cold blood. She showed him a better way. And because of her influence and example, he was able to walk away.
I submit that this is the power of God's kingdom permeating our world. Because of one man who lived, died, and was raised from the dead, the things he taught us are resonating throughout society, even in places where they don't acknowledge him as Lord.
So, when I am mistreated or someone does something terrible to me or those I love, I need to remember two things. First, Jesus calls me to show mercy, trusting our Father to take care of it. And second, when I do that, I unleash the power of God into the world. Like Fusco, there may be someone somewhere who is changed because of that mercy. And it grows, and grows, and grows.
Good springing forth out of evil. That is the best revenge of all.
What would you have done in Fusco's situation? Do you think mercy and forgiveness really changes the world? Or do you think it just let's people get away with stuff? Why?