Anyone who knows me knows that freshly baked, chewy, chocolate chip cookies are my guilty pleasure. Any notion of limiting my sugar intake flies out the window when presented with a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies.
A guilty pleasure is something we know isn’t good for us but we enjoy anyway. We all have different guilty pleasures, but there’s one guilty pleasure every human enjoys: the misfortune of our enemies. Watching the ill-fortune that falls on someone who has annoyed us, fought us, antagonized us, or done anything against us is more irresistible than chocolate chip cookies.
I love it when a driver who’s been tailgating me gets stuck and delayed. I love it when a person who’s been bashing one of my friends online suddenly has an army of their own haters. I love reading articles about horrible people who suddenly have a stroke of well-deserved calamities. I’m ashamed to admit it. I know I shouldn’t indulge. But it’s my guilty pleasure. Can anyone else relate?
Now what makes it worth it is seeing the person’s misfortune. There’s little pleasure in hearing about someone else’s bad luck without seeing their pained, frustrated expression.
This is what makes God so aggravating when it comes to revenge. He doesn’t give us that pleasure.
In the fifth book of his Chronicles of Narnia series, The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis describes a conversation between Aslan (a metaphor for Jesus) and the boy, Shasta. Shasta, the fisherman’s son, has been traveling with Aravis, the noblewoman. Aravis has wasted no opportunity to disdain Shasta’s low birth and lack of social graces. The entire time Shasta raged impotently.
Then they were attacked by a lion who scratched Aravis across the back. Shasta rescued her, and she began to see him in a different light. Later, Shasta encountered Aslan who revealed himself as the lion who had chased them all the way.
“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”
“It was I.”
“But what for?”
“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
I’m sure Shasta would have relished that scrap of gossip. It would have felt good to finally have something against the ever-superior Aravis. But Aslan didn’t allow Shasta that indulgence, even though Aravis had earned it.
Aslan then steered Shasta to his purpose – something much bigger than this feeble attempt at comeuppance. And you’ll have to read the book for the rest.
In the same way, God doesn’t allow us to indulge in revenge. Instead, He wants us to continue in our relationship with Him and discover His purpose for our lives. That’s worth meditating on so much more than any petty vengeance we can muster up.
- Some of us are motivated to succeed to prove others wrong not to honor God. That’s a path to burnout and disappointment. When you finally succeed, it won’t make things better.
- Some of us have people we love to hate. We regularly check their social media feeds to see where they are and compare ourselves. We’re angry when they succeed and we rejoice when they’re doing poorly. This is a waste of time.
- Some of us act like our healing and restoration can only come after those who did us wrong have suffered an equal or greater amount. That’s not true. You can be healed when you put your faith in Jesus. In fact, part of your healing will be finally letting them live their own story. They hurt you, but Jesus heals you. They took something, but Jesus returns it and more. What the devil meant for evil, God turns to good.
Let it go. Trust God. Let’s not indulge in this guilty pleasure. Stick to chocolate chip cookies.
Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Proverbs 20:22 Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.