You hit me, I hit you. You attack, I defend and then attack. You charge, I step to the side and let you run on. This is war. This is life. Nothing is free. Only the strong survive. Everything is about who comes out on top of the pile. These are facts that must be learned early, right?
Even if we cannot agree on this we do agree that life includes payback for those who hurt others, especially when it hits close to home! Payback may not be the smartest move, or the easiest, or even the best, however it does feel good. Or so we believe.
Along comes Solomon making statements like “the wicked get buried alive by their loot because they refuse to use it to help others.” (Proverbs 21.7) Our normal response is to cheer the retribution on! They deserve it! They earned this! I want judgment and justice. I seek scales purely balanced so all are equal. I desire only that which I deserve. This would be the best for everyone; right?
Payback is something from which you and I need to steer far, far away. If it applies to the “wicked” then it must apply to the good as well. When I look at blind justice and judgment in my life I find myself facing death. I may look good on occasion but inside I am full of stuff reflecting my attempts to build a monstrous idol towards the god within. Payback means, if I can be honest, that I owe serious penitence, deserve large amounts of punishment, and ultimately should pay for my failings with my life. That would be blind justice.
God offers you and me something radically different. His package includes mercy instead of judgment, forgiveness in lieu of revenge, and recreation as the alternative to death. He has the power to do this because he paid for every act, decision, and choice that we might make that causes pain. In the end it is His sacrifice that is wrapped in his offer of payback.
What to do?