“I’ll get even with you!”
We’ve all heard these five wounding words and some of us have spoken them, not really being aware of their destructive power or the negative influence they can have on both the speaker and hearer. This seething desire for retribution can sentence one to the prison of anger; the cell of recurring rage; where revenge is the jailor and release from selfishness is the only key to freedom
The desire to get even creates playground bullies, workplace tyrants and miserable marriages. Those who stay angry because they feel life hasn’t been fair can expect their misery to continue until they’ve shed the “get even” complex. But how can those enslaved by selfishness break free from the desire to get their due from all who they’re convinced owe them?
Freedom begins with forgiveness.
In his book “Total Forgiveness,” R.T. Kendall posts this freeing statement on the title page: “When everything in you wants to hold a grudge, point a finger and remember pain, God wants you to lay it all aside.” He then adds that God can enable us to forgive no matter how deeply we’ve been wounded by another person.
Our Lord’s first words from the cross, “Father, forgive them,” should challenge all who feel they’ve been cheated in life and must get even.
Entering the office supply store of a man of faith, I asked how he was doing.
“Better than I deserve,” he replied.
And he could have spoken for us all. Not one of us is worthy of God‘s love or His many blessings; yet He loves us and gives far more than we deserve.
A man once came to the noted devotional lecturer, F.B. Meyer, saying he had lost the joy of living. He then explained that his misery had begun when his brother had treated him unfairly at the death of their father, causing a breach between them over their inheritance. At that time, he had vowed never to forgive his brother.
Now, however, the brother was going through many trials. He wife and child had died and he was seriously ill. This joyless man wanted to go to his brother and make peace with him but had declared he would never do so.
“It is better to break a bad vow than to keep it,” said Meyer, urging the troubled man to go to his brother and be reconciled to him while he had time.
“He went and the smile of God went with him,” wrote Meyer, describing the positive results of breaking down barriers between the man and his brother.
Who awaits your forgiveness?
What barriers now exist between you and another person that ought to be broken down?
To whom should you go offering reconciliation instead of seeking revenge? Go! And you will not go alone.
Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster, and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at email@example.com