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We usually do not even the score when we seek revenge; we merely set in motion a pattern of revenge. The lifelong feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys—and the Arab-Israeli conflict of today—shows us that revenge only leads to more injury. To get even only makes the other side feel he or she is now one down and so must retaliate in order to stay even. The offender becomes the offended, and on and on the cycle goes until all are destroyed.

David Stoop, Forgiving what You’ll never Forget, Page 19

Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Time for another #shorts post.

The Bible, as well as medical research, tells us that forgiveness matters to your spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical health.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM

Forgiveness. It’s one of the greatest things in this world, but it’s one of the hardest to create and hold on to. For the average person, Forgiveness is the hardest thing they’ll ever do in life. Forgiveness for those major offenses doesn’t come easy to us. I know I’ve had great difficulty Forgiving in my personal life. How about you??

Because Forgiveness is so tough, I’m always on the lookout for more Wisdom about it. I’ll never stop reading books on Forgiveness, because I can never know enough about it. And right now I’m reading an excellent book on the subject. It’s called Forgiving what You’ll NEVER Forget by David Stoop. It’s a Christian book, so I’ll have a review of it in The Christian Book Corner once I’m finished reading it.

Anyway, the book starts out talking about the opposite of Forgiveness: Revenge. Forgiveness is one of the greatest things we can do in life; it’s counterpart, revenge, is the most worthless. Because revenge is ultimately pointless, as we discuss in today’s post. Not only does revenge not undo the original offense against us, because revenge can never undo the past, revenge also locks us into a never-ending cycle of constant retaliation. People get revenge on us for our revenge, and then we have to get them back … and it keeps going like this, forever.

What a tragic cycle to get sucked into, when revenge can’t even undo the pain of the original event anyway!!

That cycle of revenge is what today’s post is about. So let’s get into it.

A Futile Desire

Forgiveness is the most unnatural act humans do on a regular basis. On the surface it goes against all common sense. It certainly goes against the wisdom (little ‘w’) of this world, which believes in getting back at people. This wicked world says: “Make sure you pay back every offense, no matter how minor. If you don’t pay them back twice over for what they did, they’ll do it again.” But a Christian knows revenge is not the way. Revenge is actually self-harmful. But why is that??

After all, the desire for revenge is only natural, while Forgiveness is unnatural. Our natural instinct is to get revenge because our natural instincts are tied to survival. Without payback, we feel threatened, insecure, weak, and vulnerable. Any time we have something to Forgive, it means someone violated our rights. If we Forgive that, then “evil” people will keep abusing and even kill us, right?? So we need revenge. That’s what our natural instincts tell us.

Our natural desire for justice after unforgivable offenses often leads to thoughts of revenge, and those thoughts all too often feel good. Revenge has been called a wild but dangerous form of justice. But does it help? Revenge can often leave us with a haunting emptiness.

[…]

Revenge, no matter how just, can never bring satisfaction for it can never replace what has been destroyed. It also brings us down to the level of the offender.

David Stoop, Forgiving what You’ll never Forget, Page 18

Take note of what David Stoop says; revenge can never bring satisfaction. This is because what revenge can’t do is turn back time and stop or undo the original violation that made us want revenge in the first place. When the short-lived pleasure of revenge wears off, which it will, we still have the pain of that original wound.

And besides that ….

The Cycle of (Self-) Destruction

Our natural instincts for revenge lead us astray here. Revenge only causes us more problems and only makes us more insecure and vulnerable, because taking revenge makes us the target for retaliation in return. Once we take revenge, someone else wants revenge on us for our revenge. And so it leads to a vicious, self-feeding cycle that doesn’t end until everyone is destroyed ….

Revenge makes us a target, because if we get revenge on someone, their loved ones will be out for revenge on us. Once they get us back, “our side” will be out for revenge on them. A cycle of retaliation starts up and once it gets going, it doesn’t stop. This cycle only leads to more pain, destruction, suffering and death. And this is all because of revenge.

David Stoop explains further:

We usually do not even the score when we seek revenge; we merely set in motion a pattern of revenge. The lifelong feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys—and the Arab-Israeli conflict of today—shows us that revenge only leads to more injury. To get even only makes the other side feel he or she is now one down and so must retaliate in order to stay even. The offender becomes the offended, and on and on the cycle goes until all are destroyed.

David Stoop, Forgiving what You’ll never Forget, Page 19

Once revenge starts up, it never stops. It keeps itself going, it feeds itself. I get you, and then you get me back. I kill one of yours, you kill two of mine, and then I’m on the prowl once more, looking to kill three of yours. And so it goes.

For most of us though, revenge won’t escalate to the level of actual killing. But we can still get sucked into an endless and pointless cycle of revenge anyway. Just because people aren’t dying doesn’t mean we aren’t stuck in a pointless cycle of nonstop retaliation. You get me, I get you back, then you want to get me back.

It’s crazy!! The only way to get out of this cycle is not to engage in it. Revenge is the only thing keeping it going. We have to give up revenge, and even ideas of revenge, or we’ll be trapped in the endless cycle forever.

With Jesus, We Can Do it!!

International conflicts are a little beyond us, and don’t apply to our personal lives. But the concept of the revenge cycle is the same, and it does apply, even on an individual level.

Let’s think about how to stop this pointless cycle of (self)-destructive revenge in our personal lives. Then we can have Forgiveness in our personal conflicts with our families, friends, and so on. With Forgiveness, we can break the endless cycle of revenge in our personal conflicts. And then we can move forward in those relationships, putting the past behind us and creating a new future.

If we don’t break this cycle, it will never end. Who wants to live a life of always going back-and-forth with someone, always trying to get even with them, forever?? That doesn’t sound like a good life to me!! We need to walk away from that person if needed, and give up even the idea of revenge. Then we can move on to something new and better, letting go of pointless desires that don’t serve us. Remember, we’re not talking about international conflicts here. We’re talking about the conflicts in our own lives with people we know.

And don’t forget we’re only able to Forgive because Jesus has Forgiven so much in us. Without Jesus, we would not be able to Forgive. But with Him, and because of Him, we can. It’s not easy, but we can do it!!

Jesus, honestly, is the key to Forgiveness. Without His Forgiveness, we would never be able to rise above our natural instincts and show the Mercy He expects of us.

Jesus calls us to a higher and deeper level of forgiving. We are to forgive even our enemies, simply as an act of obedience, and our ability to forgive in that way flows out of our gratitude for what we have been forgiven.

David Stoop, Forgiving what You’ll never Forget, Page 77

And if we do this, if we rise above the desire for revenge and choose Forgiveness, the rewards start immediately. We free ourselves from the burden of keeping the books on a debt against us that can never be repaid. We free ourselves from the burden of thinking about and seeking revenge. And we free ourselves from the burden of the endless cycle of revenge. We step out of that self-destructive cycle, knowing the only way out of it is to not play with it. And we move on with our life.

Being able to move on like this is a blessing. Will we move forward in life?? Or will we stay stuck in the past, seeking payback (that we can never fully have) for old hurts?? Will we follow Christ’s example, even when it’s difficult?? Will we say no to a pointless cycle of retaliation that never ends, and only destroys everyone in the end??

That’s it for #shorts Part 51.

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Until next time, be strong and do good!!

Your new best friend in Christ,

99:9

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