The Big "I"

Romans 12: 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Dear Ones, today I would like to address the issue of "payback." This is a mindset that is utterly contrary to the ways of God, according to His Word.

In these days in which we live, most humans [and, unfortunately, Believers are inclusive] seem to think it is their "right" to get even with whoever would speak a word against them, or act in a way that is not agreeable to the other’s conscience. But, be forewarned by Scripture, this is not God’s way.

Proverbs 24:29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Proverbs 20:21 An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.

When we gave ourselves wholly to Yeshua HaMashiach, we gave up "our rights," and asked that He build in us a new set of rights, namely His.

Certainly, we have all had times in our life when we were certain that God had turned his face from us, simply because His justice was not quickly meted out to those whom we thought deserved it. If you turn this scenario around, you will see that we should be thankful that God is slow to anger, otherwise we would have been consumed long ago!

You see, Saints, this is a golden opportunity for us to hold tight to our own shalom [peace], and let Adonai [Lord] fight our battle.

In the book of Romans, chapters 1-11 deal with doctrine, but chapter 12:1ff deals with ethics, and is, therefore, connected with the preceding eleven chapters.

In Romans 12:19 we are told to give place unto wrath. What does that mean? By the actions of some within the Body of Messiah, one would almost think that it means to throw all caution to the wind, and let the wrath gush forth!!

The Rotherham Edition of the Bible seems to express it properly when it says:

Romans 12:19 Not avenging, yourselves, beloved, but give place unto their anger; for it is written—Mine, is avenging, I, will recompense;—saith the Lord;

Lest you think that God has neglected an unfavorable act done toward you, and is slow to avenge this same act, let me reassure you that His eye is not blind to the injustice and unfairness that has been done to you. By the same token, His eye is not blind to you taking vengeance for yourself, rather than submitting to God’s almighty wisdom within this parameter.

The Orthodox Jewish Brit Chadasha expresses Romans 12:19 in this manner:

Do not take your own revenge, beloved, but give opportunity for God’s charon af [burning wrath], for it is written, Li Nakam v’Shilem ("Vengeance is mine and recompense/repayment – I am He who will repay, says HaShem" [Deuteronomy 32:35]).

It is unfortunate that the Body of Messiah cannot get the "flesh" out of the equation in these matters. Be that as it may, vengeance takes on the connotation of an inordinate love of self and innate pride, which makes us very indulgent to our own faults, while being unyielding and inflexible to those of others. We seem to grasp every opportunity to defend the egotistic "I" while being very swift to judge others.

Although I don’t ascribe to the sum total of Calvin’s theology, he explains this precept very well in the following manner:

"The precept; then is, -- that we are not to revenge nor seek to revenge injuries done to us. The manner is added, a place is to be given to wrath. To give place to wrath, is to commit to the Lord the right of judging, which they take away from him who attempt revenge. Hence, as it is not lawful to usurp the office of God, it is not lawful to revenge; for we thus anticipate the judgment of God, who will have this office reserved for himself. He at the same time intimates, that they shall have God as their defender, who patiently wait for his help; but that those who anticipate him leave no place for the help of God." (Commentary on Romans by John Calvin 1509-1564, )

We need to keep in mind that just as God is angry with sin, and will discipline sin, He will also reprove sin within the Believer – not solely in the unsaved. We are kept from His rod when we do and hear His word of emet [truth] to us. He has given us His complete instruction manual, if you will, and expects us to have good pleasure in being His obedient children.

Yeshua instructed us in Matthew 7:12: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Have we been faithful in this command from our Messiah? Only to the degree that we do not procure vengeance for ourselves, in any matter! This is reserved for God, and we would do well not to usurp His authority.

To avenge a person, or a matter, specifically means to 1) avenge a thing or, 2) to punish a person for a thing. See Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, word #1556. Have we not read in Scripture that there is but ONE who is worthy to judge righteous judgement?

Psalms 7:11 God is a righteous judge, Yes, a God who has indignation every day.

Romans 12:17-19 is an instruction in ethics, from the hand of God. The doctrine has been dealt with in the previous eleven chapters of Romans, and now God is trying to instill the proper ethics within His children. Ethics are the items that the world will see, and judge us by. Remember, they have not entered into a Covenant relationship with Adonai, and are, therefore, not subject to the governing agreement of that Covenant. The world will not understand how to scrutinize us by our doctrine. Those who have not entered into the Covenant will only esteem the Believer by their ethics.

Romans 12:17 is telling us to mind beforehand, to prepare, to provide, and also to take care of or to attend to a thing. "Attending to things honorable" may be the rendering here. The adjective could also mean fair, good; and good in conduct. As it is here used, it is not "comely," but just, right, or reputable. We are to provide things honest in the sight of ALL men!! We are told to display this type of ethical behavior not just to those within the Body of Messiah, but those who are within AND on the outward side of the Kingdom of God.

We must also understand the difference between the mandate given by God to our civil government and the one given to the church. Our civil governments . . . "are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Do you desire to have no fear of the authority? Do that which is good, and you will have praise from the same, for he is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he doesn’t bear the sword in vain; for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him who does evil." (Romans 13:3-4). Our government must use the sword that has been given to it, simply because it is an appointment and commissioning directly from God, to suppress evil-doers.

Even so, the church has a different mandate. The civil government may be winning its battle with wars, but are the Believers’ interests in conflict with the civil government? No, we should be earnestly praying for our governments to be led by Ruach HaKodesh in every endeavor they embark upon, and judging ourselves, lest we be judged by those outside of the Kingdom of God.

1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

The storms of our personal life, both natural and spiritual, will dissipate to a great degree, when we render the "I" of the storm as being incapacitated. To do this, we must let God be the one to mete out any retribution or retaliation in our personal life, and let the governments do what God has validated them to do in matters of civil disobedience. Please remember that Yeshua told us that His Kingdom is NOT of this world.

My prayer is that this article has given you food for thought, and has challenged you to be a Berean, and that you will check the Scripture to see if these things be so.

Humbly submitted for the edification of the Saints by Anna L. Schwery
2001, Yad b’Yad Ministries

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