Thursday, May 08, 2008

4 Minute Devotions: Payback

Sometimes we are too zealous in our outrage at the world that we want to payback evil with evil. Payback belongs to the Lord; we are meant to love our enemies and forgive those who hurt us.

2 Thessalonians 1:6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.

Many years ago, I befriended a drug addict in Maybole, Scotland called Davie. We shared a common interest in art and throughout my years there, we drew some great religious pictures together. I still have some of them on my office wall here in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Davie’s conversion involved kicking his drug habit, which was very hard to do and extremely painful to watch as he went through withdrawal. He never fully beat it, but most of the time he managed to stay clean. Outwardly, he changed from an untidy, sour and angry person to becoming a brighter, happier, and smart looking guy. His new faith in Christ transformed him and I felt privileged to know him as a friend.

But sometimes his new faith got him into trouble. One night he decided to pay back one of the drug pushers in Maybole by beating him up. Davie’s zeal got the better of him, which made him choose the wrong moment to try this. The pusher was surrounded by a couple of heavies, who set upon Davie like a pack of wild animals.

In the wee small hours of the morning, the phone rang at the manse. It was Davie. He needed help, so I drove to where he was and was shocked to see him. His face was all bloody and bruised. He was shaking and could hardly stand. I wanted to take him to hospital, but he wouldn’t let me. Instead, I drove him up to the manse and helped to clean him up.

Davie wanted to pay back the drug dealer for all the misery he was causing in Maybole, and to show him what the vengeance of the Lord looked like. But all he got for his one man crusade was a bruised face and bloodied nose. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, to hug him or chide him. He had the right intention but he just went about it in all the wrong way.

Payback is something that we should leave to the Lord. As Christians, we’re meant to forgive those who hurt or harm us. It’s hard to do and sometimes we feel that the wicked go unpunished. However, that’s not the case, for there will come a time when God will take care of the unrepentant wicked. It’s not our responsibility. It’s not our cause.

Prayer: O Lord, forgive us for wanting payback in our lives and for being mad at those who are unjust, wicked, and evil. Teach us the hard lessons of loving our enemies, and of leaving justice to You. Help us to do whatever we can to make this world a better place through the strength of Your love. In Jesus’ Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

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