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Sunday, November 22, 2009

There Is No Such Thing as Payback

Many years ago a woman had an affair. She knew it was wrong, ended the affair and confessed to her husband. He told her that he forgave her. Then, he went out and had multiple affairs himself. I wondered if he was trying to pay back the pain his wife inflicted upon him. He may have felt justified for a short time. He may have felt that he had paid her back for a short period of time but he kept starting new affairs. No number of affairs can serve as a payback. You simply cannot get over evil by inflicting more evil. Evil promises relief from your pain but never delivers.

Jesus told us to pray for our enemies. He never claimed we could get relief by revenge.  There will never be enough pain inflicted which will result in satisfaction for what has happened to you.

It is harder when someone very close to you wants to make amends but you still want them to know the pain they have inflicted on you. You think that giving them what they gave you will restore the relationship because each of you will have felt that pain. It just doesn't work. You will never feel satisfied if you are looking for payback.

There is justice but justice is not revenge. Justice gives a prescribed penalty. That penalty means the person has paid that debt. For example, the wages of sin is death. There is a prescribed penalty for sin.

There is grace but it does not negate the sentence.  Guilty people need grace because they deserve justice. I want grace for my sins not justice. Grace will not make me innocent. It simply takes away the penalty of my sin.

There is grace that lives inside the one who has received grace. That grace should allow those full of grace to give grace to others. In fact, grace is the only way to get over what someone has done to you.

I know that the movies create bad guys whom everyone attending wishes for payback on what he has done. It makes a good movie to see someone get back what he has been dealing out. Sometimes we cheer as if that will pay back what has been done. It is easy for movie goers to believe this because we have not really experienced the first hand pain inflicted by the evil character. We think there is a real payback. Real life doesn't feel that way. The pain is still there and as long as the pain is there, there can be no payback.

Only God's grace can remove the pain someone has inflicted. Asking Him to do so is the first step in relief. No measure of payback will take away the pain. No measure of payback will satisfy the wrong. 

Simply put: If you want to get over it, you ask for God's grace. If you want to prolong the pain, you seek payback. It's your choice because there is no such thing as payback.

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