I was on my way to work at way-too-early in the morning, chewing on an upcoming encounter I was going to have with someone who had grossly wronged me. I was going over in my mind different things I could say to put him in his place. Zinger Bible verses. Veiled cut downs. Looks that would communicate my disdain. Retorts that gave me the upper hand.
Then I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit — vengeance is Mine, says the Lord. If I were to take any of these actions, I’d be taking revenge at some level.
Revenge is so appealing because it’s OWED. It looks and feels and seems so RIGHT. All standards of worldly fairness are met — exacting satisfaction for a wrong by punishing the wrongdoer in kind or degree (Merriam-Webster). Justice and righteousness within us cry out — SOMETHING must be done.
And something will be. But it’s not for me to do. Vengeance is His. And when I put myself in the position of being the avenger, I violate the 2nd commandment: Do not have any other gods before Me. I set myself in the position of being God.
As I was realizing all of this, I pulled up to my parking place at work–the same reserved place that I have had for over 3 years. And even though it was still insanely-early-:30, someone was parked in my place! This was the first time ever that someone had parked wrongly in my place! And it wasn’t just any someone, it was a brand new Cadillac (with no kid seats, crayon marks, or crushed Cheerios inside).
What happens in these instances — I’m now left to go jockey for a non-reserved parking place at the boondocks of the parking lot and have to walk a loooong way in the freeeezing cold into the building. And this isn’t an offense that’s taken lightly. When someone parks in your place, you call the agency police and they issue a close-to-$100 ticket. Ha! Take that Cadillac!
Then it hit me — sure sounds a lot like revenge. Revenge that is the Lord’s and not mine. Then it occurred to me that this might be an opportunity to apply what I learned (also known as a “test”). Frequently throughout the gospels, Jesus gave His disciples hands-on learning opportunities to apply whatever lessons they had just heard Him teach on. For example, after extensive teaching on faith, Jesus let’s them encounter a perilous storm in which they’re certain their boat will sink and all will die. Jesus calms the storm and then asks them about their faith.
So maybe that’s what was happening here. God gives me an opportunity to get back at Rich Cadillac with a totally justified parking ticket. But I resisted the temptation. And instead of getting revenge, I left a note asking Cadillac to park somewhere else or call my office to work out any dispute with the assigned spaces.