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Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 24:29


"Do not say, Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work"

Solomon is warning about the destructive impulses of vengeance and about the God complex. It is inevitable that we will be wronged during our life. Every person is selfish and out for themselves. This means they put themselves and their wants, needs, and desires ahead of anyone or anything else (this is what the Bible calls the sin nature). Therefore it is inevitable that your wants, needs, and even righteous claims would be stepped on by someone else at some point in your life. It is also inevitable that you would want to pay that person back for what they did. It seemed incredibly selfish to you and it may have done you real harm. The problem is that you are also selfish and will automatically magnify the harm and the need for punishment. That is why we leave it with God and His authorized agents to exact revenge when and where it is needed.

In this proverb the person wants to exact revenge against those who hurt him. But he also has put himself in the place of the judge deciding what is the appropriate amount of consequences. This is not our place unless you have been charged with that official assignment. And if you have a personal stake in the matter, you would recuse yourself.

The world of revenge and getting back is never even. The person (you) who gets back thinks it’s settled, but then the first person thinks that the revenge was excessive and they have to get back at you for your excessive revenge and a whole new cycle starts.

Solomon tells us not to even make a place for the words that will get us into the revenge business. Stop these revenge impulses when they are still thoughts in our mind. The battle is for our minds and what we allow ourselves to think about.

It is God who will "render to the man according to his work" on judgment day. We don't have enough information and impartiality to make the determinations. We are biased. We must embrace the idea that our selfishness stains everything about us and give up the myth of impartiality in these matters. God has told us not to be about vengeance. He will repay those who need to be repaid. He will know information that we don't know.

Now it is important to say at this point that we are to hand over to God's human agents those who commit criminal acts and actions that threaten society. There are those who were not personally wronged who can assign blame and consequences in this life. These would be the authorities in any system that can assign blame and consequences.

Until tomorrow,

Gil Stieglitz

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