Sunday, March 07, 2010

Jacob’s Sons Respond -- Genesis 34:31

But they said, “Should he treat our sister as a harlot?”

My wife and I have the joy of living with one of our daughters, her husband, and three of our five young grandchildren. So, I very often get a ring-side seat when it comes to children taking action in what we as a adults would term ‘revenge’. In fact, children themselves explain it as “I’m just paying her/him back”. One of the siblings may have torn a page out of someone else’s coloring book, or messed up the arrangement of toy parts that had been set up in one’s room, or took something good off of someone else’s plate when theirs was finished, and so on. The victimized child then strikes back and immediately one of the adults questions the behavior. The retaliating child responds with, “while she/he did so and so and I was just punishing her/him.”

That is exactly what Jacob’s sons, Dinah’s brothers, were saying when their father questioned them on the savage murder of all the Shechemites. I think if we were honest, we would have to admit that revenge is built into our human, post-fall, sinful nature.

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The trait starts to exhibit itself in each of us at a very young age. As we grow older we let it impact our family relationships and later, as appropriate, we take it into the boardrooms of our workplaces as we compete greedily for market share and industry rankings. Some get involved in politics and government, and find themselves in international conflicts. When wars break out, we often hear, after an attack, be it a regular military ambush or an act of terrorism, that the other nation “is now expected to retaliate”.

But wait, it is not supposed to be like that at all. Not when we’re four, or fourteen, or forty, or Presidents of companies or nations. Elsewhere in scripture, God has clearly given us to understand that revenge is His. Yet, this is one of the most difficult lessons for mankind to understand, accept, and comply with.

Let me challenge you today as you face your world of relationships. Let me challenge you as you experience unfairness in your family, your workplace, your school, your community, and your nation. Let me challenge you as you deal with the loss of a loved one caused by a drunk driver, a mad gunman, or even an immoral war. Let me challenge you as you live your life disabled because of a mistake made in the hospital, with a medication you were prescribed, an abusive relative, or because someone inflicted you with AIDS. Your nature dictates ‘revenge’ but realize that originally God created you to be governed by your ‘spirit’ and it begs for you to ‘let it go’. Your spirit is crying out to you to ‘let it go for good’ so that you can start living life again with joy and purpose. It knows you and I need to remember that our God, without Whom we could not breathe, has said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” May we all live our lives like that.

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