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Revenge Texting

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted April 23, 2014

RELIGION – We used to have prank wars in college. We filled a buddy’s car up with packing peanuts. Then he came back from a pig picking and put a half picked hog skull on my pillow. I took my friend’s keys at night and moved his car somewhere else. Then he took doe urine soaked rags and placed them in the dorms air conditioner vents. The issue was it would keep escalating, and usually someone would get mad and go too far. Revenge always grows nastier and nastier.
 
This week I read in World Magazine about a very creative revenge, one that I fear may be attempted but this was too good not to share. “William Shakespeare wrote that “revenge should have no bounds.” And with free SMS messaging, and an assist from the Bard himself, one British man has taken Shakespeare’s words to heart. Ed Joseph of Bristol, U.K., tried buying a gaming console from a private seller over the internet in early March. But after Joseph made the $130 payment, the seller refused to ship the device. After trading furious text messages—and finding no other method of recourse—Joseph, 24, used the copy-paste function on his smart phone to put the entire works of William Shakespeare in a text message and send it to his nemesis. Because the text can only be delivered in 160-character chunks, Joseph’s message needed 29,305 parts to reach the scammer’s phone. Thanks to his unlimited data and texting plan, Joseph won’t pay a dime while his opponent’s phone was continuously chiming for the better part of a week.” 

Now, I don’t condone such behavior, but that is pretty funny. The scary reality is captured by Alexander Strauch in “Leading with Love.” He writes that”When feelings have been hurt, people often feel justified in doing anything they want in retaliation. They can leave the church, divide the body, explode with uncontrolled anger, cut people off, lie, hate, and backbite. They try to justify the most wicked, sinful behavior with the simple excuse, “But I’ve been hurt!” Scripture, however, prohibits the spirit of retaliation, the get-even mentality that plagues human nature, with the clear command: “Repay no one evil for evil” (Rom. 12:17; 1 Thes. 5:15; 1 Pet. 3:9). When insulted, we are not to return the insult; when attacked, we are not to retaliate; when criticized, we are not to slander; when hurt, we are not to strike back. The Scripture further forbids seeking personal, private revenge or taking justice into our own hands; “Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom. 12:19). It is God’s prerogative to punish evil, and He will see to it…. Rather than seeking retribution, Christians are to “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). p. 172)

Now, let me clarify a bit here. Self-defense or personal defense of a nation or someone you love is not forbidden here.  But you might say in Matthew 5:39 that Jesus said “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” First off, it is wrong to think Jesus means evil should never be resisted. Jesus demonstrated with His life that evil should and must be resisted, such as when He turned tables in the temple. Also, it is wrong to think that Jesus means a physical attack cannot be resisted or defended against. When Jesus speaks of a slap on your right cheek, that was culturally understood as a deep insult not a physical attack. Jesus does not mean that if someone hits you across the right side of our head with a baseball bat you should allow them to then hit the left side. It is also wrong to think Jesus means that there is no place for punishment or retribution in society. Jesus here speaks to personal relationships and not to the proper functions of government in restraining evil (Romans 13:1-4). I must turn my cheek when I am personally insulted, but the government has a responsibility to restrain the evil man from physical assault.

So, the issue for us is that unless we are being presently attacked or physically harmed, we must forgo revenge. We only hurt ourselves. The Greek term for “forgiveness” (aphiemi) comes from a word that means “to let go.” Forgiveness is a release, a letting go of self-destructive feelings such as anger, bitterness and revenge. Those attitudes poison intimacy with God and harmony with human beings.

So what anger have you been holding on to? What plans to harm, embarrass or speak ill of others are you plotting? Stop copying the complete works of Shakespeare to text to your foe (use the Bible instead obviously!)  Forgive and trust God to work things out. Let me leave you this from Ken Sande’s great book “The Peacemaker.” Forgiveness may be described as a decision to make four promises:
“I will not dwell on this incident.”
“I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you.”
“I will not talk to others about this incident.”
“I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.”

Let us forgive others as we ourselves have been forgiven!

Pastor Phillip






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