My camp buddies and I couldn’t believe it. Those sneaky girls had raided our church camp bathhouse. Toilet paper hung from the rafters, debris littered the floor, and our bath towels were on the roof.
Our first thought was revenge. How could we get back AT THEM in a way that would be even worse than what they did to us? After a day of contemplating this critical matter, one of my friends said, “Why don’t we get a bunch of chicken manure and fill their bathhouse with it?” After laughing hard for a good five minutes, we agreed that it was the perfect answer. Sadly, even though we were all in high school, not one of us used any of the good sense that God gave us to question the wisdom of this idea.
So, after getting a trash can full of manure from a local chicken farm, we snuck over to the girls’ bathhouse while they were at swim time and enthusiastically spread it on thick, as they say. And later our glee reached heights hitherto unknown as we watched them run screaming from the bathhouse.
I wish I could report that there was a happy ending. But it just so happened that a camp board member was present that evening and chewed us out good. Then the girls had the last laugh when we had to clean it up. We learned a good lesson that day—getting revenge often ends up hurting the ones exacting it more than their intended victims.
In Romans 12:19, Paul says: “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.
Instead of seeking revenge, we should forgive. Forgiveness is an act of faith, faith in God that He is a better justice-maker than we are and will set things right again. Forgiveness often requires much patience and can be very messy. One must be willing to forgive without every misunderstanding resolved, every difference reconciled, or every memory recalled the same. We should leave revenge to God—that’s His job.
Our job is to forgive.