When Abraham Lincoln was an attorney, a very rich man came to see him. He wanted to file a lawsuit against a poor man for $2.50 (about $33 in today’s money). Lincoln tried to reason with the man, but his mind was set on revenge and he passionately insisted on the lawsuit. Seeing he wasn’t backing down, Lincoln finally agreed to take the case but only for a legal fee of $10. The rich man eagerly accepted, paid the fee, and walked away satisfied with his actions.
On the day the lawsuit was filed, Lincoln searched for the poor man. When Lincoln found him, he informed the man about the lawsuit. Then, Lincoln handed him half of the $10 fee he had collected. The poor man went that very day to confess judgment and paid the $2.50 (Norman Dog, Yarns & Stories of Abraham Lincoln, p. 185).
Revenge and grudges can cause us to make some ridiculous decisions. The rich man may not have cared or even realized it happened, but he actually walked away much worse off than he came. Not only was he out some cash, but his personal vendetta against the poor man hurt his character.
When someone wrongs us, it almost feels natural to get revenge against them. No matter how it feels, this is the complete opposite way God wants us to act. Consider Romans 12:17-21, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord, ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Revenge shouldn’t even be in a Christian’s vocabulary. Following these guidelines will do wonders in our relationship with others. It will prevent problems from occurring. It will smooth them over when they do happen. Most importantly of all, when people do wrong us, we can rest assured that God is going to handle the situation much more appropriately than we ever could.