Justice seeks an appropriate penalty; vengeance seeks to destroy another

Justice seeks an appropriate penalty; vengeance seeks to destroy another

Luke 6:27-38. Love your enemies

The tragedy of vengeance is that it creates a vicious cycle. If the desired outcome is to stop evil and pursue good, evil cannot be a response to another evil.

This is waaaaaay easier said than done.

The commandment of Jesus to love one’s enemies, I think, is one of the most thought and heart-provoking. It seems irrational and unnatural. I recall an instance when a loved one shared how a trusted friend betrayed trust. Immediately, I caught myself thinking of vengeance; to ensure that the abuser gets what he deserves and more.

… “and more.”

This is the difference between justice and vengeance: justice is rational and seeks fairness, an appropriate penalty for a wrongdoing. Vengeance is emotional, driven to pay back wrongdoing a thousandfold. Vengeance can trigger a vicious cycle that transcends generations – such is the power of wrath, pride, and greed.

The practical way, I think, to honor this commandment is to let mercy be the default. I cannot authentically “love” my enemies the way I love my friends. But perhaps, at least, I can still treat them as persons and dignify them as such. Or if I cannot control myself yet, at least I can avoid and ignore.

I don’t think I have acquired the necessary maturity and wisdom to fully comprehend what “loving one’s enemies” means. Nevertheless, I dare say that this teaching is one of the most powerful; something that would make me proud to be a follower of Christ.


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