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See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. 1 Thessalonians 5:15

‘I don’t get mad, I get even!’. We hear it said, or even say it all the time. Most of the time it’s meant in jest, but if we are honest, there are many times we get even when we’ve been hurt or offended. There are a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle ways of retaliation, but all have the same goal, to make sure the other person ‘pays’ for hurting us or crossing us.

Getting even is usually counter-productive. We are hurt by others so we hurt others in hopes of making our pain less. I’m not trying to minimize the pain of being attacked. Whether the attack is physical or emotional, the pain can be unbearable. Sometimes I think the emotional pain is worse because it leaves no visible bruises and we suffer alone.

It may be hard to admit it to ourselves, but many times our desire to ‘get even’ is a result of our own self-image. When we’re attacked, the enemy likes to whisper in our ear and tell us we are unworthy, unlovely, ugly, fat, stupid, weak and a whole list of other lies. The enemy loves to get us to think badly of ourselves so that we forget who we really are. We are children of the King!

Retaliation almost always leads to a negative spiral. You hurt me so I hurt you so you hurt me so I hurt you…and on and on. Many marriages and other relationships are destroyed because no one steps out of the circle.

When Christ-followers are involved in a negative spiral it shows the world that we are no different than they are. We talk of love and forgiveness but show none! In fact, sometimes the ‘evil sinners’ of the world are far kinder and forgiving than those of us who call ourselves Christians.

Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica and reminds them that retaliation (paying back evil for evil) should never be a part of the body of Christ. Rather, we are to do good to each other. This should be the defining mark of every church. People may not always agree with our stands on issues, but they should never question our love for each other and for them.

There’s an old Christian song that says “We are one in the Spirit….they will know we are Christians by our love’. If we are to impact our corner of the world for Jesus this should be our way of life. We will be hurt and offended. We will be attacked and misunderstood. We’ll be lied about. Our response should always be one of kindness even in situations where we have to separate us from our attacker because of the physical/emotional damage they have done to us.

Remember this. You are loved by God. He made you just as you are. If God had a chance to make you over again, He’d make you the same way that you are now! Let Him handle the crabby customer at work, the jerky driver on the interstate, the know-it-all gossip at your church. Rely on the Holy Spirit to empower you to show kindness and wisdom every time you are attacked. In this way, the world will know what it means to have the love of Jesus in our lives.

PRAYER: Father, I confess to you that it’s far easier for me to retaliate than to react with love, kindness and forgiveness. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m harder on my ‘Christian’ friends than I am on the ‘evil sinners’ I pray for each day. When someone hurts me, remind me that I’m yours. Empower me to remove myself from danger and rely on you for justice. Anoint my wounds with the healing oil of your love. If there is anyone to whom I should ask forgiveness please show them to me today. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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