When Revenge Is Right
In Disciple-making Leadership relationship damage will occur. Knowing that, when is it right for you to get revenge to teach a lesson?
As we have talked about, Disciple-making Leadership (DmL) is built upon a relationship with someone else. Inevitably, the closeness of two people speaking truth to one another in love leads to hurt feelings. You must know that upfront and know when and how to get revenge. Wait? Did you read that right? Yes! Yes, you did! There is revenge that is right, so let’s turn to the life of David for proof.
In 1 Samuel 22, we see that David and his 400 men are on the run from Saul’s 3,000 men. David gets assistance from a priest, which angers Saul. He finds a man without character and slaughters that priest, his family, and the entire city in revenge. As the chase continues, Saul enters a cave to “relieve himself” and David is hiding in that cave. Then and there, David could have taken revenge but that would not have been right. After Saul leaves, David takes his revenge by calling out to Saul and letting him know what he could have done. This moment - this way - is the right way to take revenge.
You are thinking that David did not take revenge, and you are right - it is NEVER right to take revenge on another person by plotting and striking back. Let’s closely examine what David did in 1 Samuel 24 and learn from his wonderful example:
Gave it time (v 4-7) - instead of acting in the moment, David waited while in the cave. That impulse control helped him slow down so he could make better, rational decisions rather than acting on emotions.
Reached out (v 8a) - rather than letting time and distance continue to separate the two, David wanted to talk. His silence would have kept a growing bitterness between them, but he wanted to try and fix it. Far too often, we go to our corner and stay there expecting the other person to make the first move. That is wrong!
Acted respectfully (v 8b) - note how David addressed Saul: “my lord, the king!” He did not use spite by speaking to Saul as the king-on-the-way-out. He spoke in humility and that made a difference. When you start a conversation with someone that hurt you, be humble and treat them with respect - even if they disrespect you in return.
Confronted Saul (v 9) - point blank, David shared that Saul was getting poor advice and was acting based on assumptions. This faulty foundation needed to be corrected as soon as possible.
Clarified the situation (v 10-14) - David continued by offering irrefutable evidence that what Saul believed was wrong. More than likely, our understanding of a situation is completely different than someone else’s understanding while the truth rests in the middle. This is why a conversation to clarify the circumstances is critical.
Ask for change (v 15) - David had a purpose for this conversation in that he wanted to see circumstances change. Saul’s response later in the passage is that David was more righteous than he and an agreement were made to restore peace between them.
Unfortunately, Saul failed to keep his end of the bargain and would, once again, resume the chase of David. Chuck Swindoll, in speaking of this situation regarding David, said this: “We can’t make anyone live in peace with us, but we can make sure the path to peace is clear on our side.”
In summary, the right time to get revenge is…never.
Instead, let us daily live what Paul wrote in Romans 16:16-18: “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
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