This is, by far, one of the components of the Christian faith that I struggle with most. I use the term faith because battling with whether to take injustices into our own hands, instead of trusting that God will deal with the egregious sins we bear witness to, ultimately falls on where our faith in Him on the spectrum of believability lies. Many of my posts have dealt with the sins that we see (hopefully) in our own lives, but this particular post is directed towards the sin we see in those around us. As commonplace as the individual sins we commit ourselves is the ever present sin we watch in play, fully aware of its presence, but completely lost as to which avenue to take in dealing with the matter. I’m referring to the sins committed by others against us, the ones that are well hidden by the aggressor in sight of others, but clear as a cloudless sky when basing them against what Scripture considers trespassing in God’s eyes.
The sins committed against us can be quiet or loud, underhanded or blatant, passive or aggressive (or the oft blended passive-aggressive), and each occurrence challenges us as to how we respond. Do we respond in anger? Or withdrawal? To be angry at sin can be righteous in God’s eyes, but it’s what we do with that anger that is our test. We are told in Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger do not sin,” which implies that the emotion of anger itself is not sin, but what springs from it could potentially be. Even if we’re to perfectly follow the steps given in Matthew 18:15-17, anger can still linger when none of these bring about justice. Therein our problem lies: justice, as we see fit.
God Himself is the decider of how justice prevails, not His created. Our finite vision causes us to focus only on the circumstances we can see, but the details He has carefully interwoven into each injustice we experience are an open book that His hand has written from beginning to end. He tells us in Romans 12:19, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” This isn’t a suggestion, it’s an imperative. Do we trust Him enough to leave room for His wrath? Shouldn’t we exact just a bit of justice on those who’ve offended, not only us, but God in their sinful behavior?
Simply put, whether we sit idly by, or take swift action, God will accomplish the outcome He wills. More complicated is our decision when we’re uncertain of which response will please Him the most. Back up a few verses to Romans 12:9, which reads, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” So now, we’ve got two emotions, anger and hate, that can be backed up biblically as being allowable. We can be angry at, and hate, what is sinful in the eyes of our Father; however, we ought not indulge in sin ourselves by our response of choice. We’re told to cling to what is good; love is good, God is good, His law is good. This love, though, must be sincere, as is His love and His law. Just for extra measure, sincere is synonymous with straightforward and honest, all of which He encompasses fully.
It doesn’t necessarily take faith to systematically follow His commands that we are to confront aggressors that are in sin against us, with a love that’s sincere, as those steps can be done so out of obedience to His Word. However, the call to remain faithful after we’ve done our due diligence can be the summit we struggle to reach. When our anger and hate towards the sinfulness of another causes us to doubt His ways and desire to rush into doing deeds to avenge our version of revenge that we are to leave for Him, we wind up engaging in sinful desires of the flesh that do us harm. On the other hand, when we do as He has directed, then rest in Him, leaving the consequences of injustice up to Him, a peace unparalleled to the pain caused ushers in when we realize that His justice far exceeds any that we could bring about ourselves.