Romans 12:19-20, "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
There is a power in forgiveness. It is an inward action that can have profound effects on those who experience it. When you show forgiveness, when in acts of human kindness you help meet the needs of those who have offended you, you transcend beyond the realm of normal human behavior into something Divine. Man is always cut to the heart when they come into the presence of the Divine, or, at least, Divine-like behavior. The effects can be just as powerful as burning coals heaped onto their heads—which was something our inner-being would have told us we want to do in the first place. Jesus is saying there is a greater power than revenge. Revenge may seem sweet but it's rare. More often we only are consumed and destroyed by our rage, eaten away by our desire for revenge. While the one who has offended us has already put the whole thing behind them and has moved on. You destroy yourself and have no impact at all on the one who has caused it all. The heart that is seeking to get even only finds itself deeper in deficit.
The impotence of revenge only illuminates the power of forgiveness. The power of forgiveness is the power of God flowing through us. We are conduits of God's grace. He gives us more grace than we need so we can extend it to others. So, Jesus teaches us to pray, "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12). When we forgive we unleash the power of God into the situation to impact the person not on the outside—the only way revenge could attack the person—but on the inside where their conscience and heart live. It is a power to change lives (including your own).
Best-selling author Malcom Gladwell recently shared that while writing his latest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, he went to Winnipeg to visit a woman named Wilma Derksen. Thirty years ago, the Derksens experienced every parent's worst nightmare—their daughter, Candace, was abducted and murdered.
Gladwell was amazed by something that Wilma said at the time: "We would like to know who the person or persons (who murdered Candace) are so we could share, hopefully, a love that seems to be missing in these people's lives." She continued, "I can't say at this point I forgive this person," but as Gladwell noticed, "the stress was on the phrase at this point." As he writes, "I wanted to know where the Derksens found the strength to say these things … Where do two people find the power to forgive in a moment like that?"
The answer was their Christian faith. It's a power that Gladwell, who grew up in a Christian home, was familiar with but had gotten away from. As he put it, "I have always believed in God. I have grasped the logic of the Christian faith. What I have had a hard time seeing is God's power." Sitting in Wilma Derksen's garden, he saw that power. He realized that "the louder claims of material advantage" and life's and the world's ideas about power had him looking in the wrong places. Seeing God's power in action led him to rediscover his Christian faith. [Eric Metaxas, "Breakpoint: Malcom Gladwell's Tipping Point—The Power of Faith," SOUTHEAST OUTLOOK (1-1-15); submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky]
Prayer: Father, How hard it is, at times, to forgive someone who has really hurt us. Our inner man may want to take revenge, to get even. Yet, when the power of Your forgiveness flows through us into the situation it alows for something much more powerful than evil, good. Your will is good and we avail ourselves of that goodness and ask You to help us to do the most Divine thing possible—forgive. In Jesus name, amen.