March 24, 2015
Payback is Sweet … or Is It?
The Philistines went up and camped in the land of Judah. The men of Judah asked them, 'Why have you come here to fight us?' They answered, 'We have come to make Samson our prisoner, to pay him back for what he did to our people.' Then three thousand men of Judah said to Samson, 'What have you done to us? Don't you know that the Philistines rule over us?' Samson answered, 'I only paid them back for what they did to me' (Judges 15: 9-11).
Friend to Friend
“Just remember. I don’t get mad. I get even.” I spoke those words in a feeble attempt at humor … when I was actually boiling mad inside and desperately trying to control my emotions.
One of the most important lessons we can learn as a fully devoted follower of Christ is learning to control our emotions instead of allowing them to control us. And revenge is one of the most powerful emotions of all. When I think about revenge, I think of Samson.
Samson failed in life because he allowed his emotions to rule his behavior. He killed the Philistines out of anger and revenge. We may not commit murder, but we lash out and do great harm when we refuse to control our anger. We need to leave justice in the hands of God where it belongs. God will balance the scales. We just have to trust Him to do it in His time and in His way.
Samson fought the Philistines for twenty years. He killed many of them and destroyed much of what they had. The Philistines retaliated, and Samson was determined to get even. He became very angry, and it was his anger that distracted him from God's plan for his life. The mission God gave him became his own personal battleground. Revenge became a powerful and consuming passion in the heart of Samson and changed the entire direction of his life.
Delilah was also motivated by revenge. She hated the Israelites - the nation that Samson was destined to lead. She did not worship God, and saw a relationship with Samson as her big chance to take revenge on Israel.
Revenge is so powerful because it is fueled by unresolved anger. Refusing to take revenge means that we must learn how to deal with our anger in a healthy way.
When we are mistreated or hurt, we want someone to pay. We want those who have hurt us to hurt in the same way. It only seems fair. The desire to get even is revenge and should never have a place in our hearts. God's ways are higher than our ways and accomplish things beyond what we can see or even imagine.
When our children were toddlers, our daughter was a "biter." We constantly worked with her in an attempt to break her of the nasty habit. I thought we were making progress. I was wrong.
While folding laundry one afternoon, I listened to Jered and Danna playing in the living room. When a scream pierced the air, I dropped the clothes and ran to investigate.
Standing at the door, I saw Danna with her mouth firmly attached to her brother's arm. Jered was desperately trying to get free but not having much luck. When Danna saw me, she immediately sat back, waiting for her punishment.
Taking a deep breath, I sat down on the floor between them, gathering Jered in my arms and tried to explain, "Honey, your sister really does not understand that she is hurting you." I could tell by the look on his face that he wasn’t really sure that was true but was willing to let it go this once.
I then turned to Danna and took her to the time out chair. I set the timer for two minutes and sat her cute little biting self in the chair. She looked at me, her huge brown eyes filled with remorse. Surely she had learned her lesson. When the timer went off, I issued a firm warning that I hoped would help discourage a repeat offense, hugged her, and told her to go have fun with her brother.
I left them to play and resumed folding laundry - until I heard Danna's scream. Again I went running.
Standing at the door, I saw a set of teeth marks on Danna’s little arm, compliments of her brother who calmly looked up at me and explained, "Mama, now she knows it hurts."
We want justice. Revenge never brings true justice. Only God can do that when we surrender the hurt and pain to Him, and choose to forgive instead of choosing to get even.
Father, my emotions can get out of control so quickly! Today I choose to crucify myself. I choose to give You control and let You live in and through my emotions. Let others hear You when I speak. Let them see You in me. Pour Yourself out through my life today, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Take a few minutes to make a list of the top five emotional responses common in your life. Which one of these emotions do you experience the most?
Beside each emotion, write one habit you can incorporate into your life that will enable you to control that emotion.
Read and memorize Proverbs 25:28 “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control” (NIV).
More from the Girlfriends
You cannot change your past, but you can change your response to your past. Mary has faced and dealt with a painful past, but she has learned how to harness the power of that pain and use it for good. Need help? Check out Mary’s E-Bible Study, How to Get Past Your Past.
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