Vengeance Disintegrates You

There are two quotes I want to use tomorrow, but I don’t like using quotes.  🙂

When I listen to someone I tune out when they quote someone.  Almost always.  I know not everyone is like this.  I don’t like that I am.  But, it is still true.  If a preacher who I listen to references someone over and over I will eventually start reading the author or listening to the preacher.  Both of my quotes are from books I read because they were repeatedly quoted and encouraged towards me.  Since I could hear, christians have been referencing CS Lewis, and since I have been in St. Louis I hear about Tim Keller (which was before he was Tim Keller).  

So, I will likely paraphrase these tomorrow, giving credit, floundering a bit, but not quoting.

Keller on Forgiveness, from King’s Cross, “One thing you can do is to try and make that person pay: You can try to destroy their opportunities or ruin their reputation; you can hope they suffer, or you can actually see to it.  But, there’s a big problem with that.  As you’re making them pay off the debt, as you’re making them suffer because of what they did to you, you’re becoming like them.  You’re becoming harder, colder; you’re becoming like the perpetrator.  Evil wins.  What else can you do?

The alternative is to forgive.  But there’s nothing easy about real forgiveness.  When you want to harbor vengeful thought, when you want so much to carry our vengeful actions but you refuse them in an effort to forgive, it hurts.  When you refrain, when you forgive, it’s agony.  Why?  Instead of making the other person suffer, you’re absorbing the cost yourself.  You aren’t trying to get your reputation back by tearing their reputation down.  You are forgiving them and it is costing you.  That’s what forgiveness is.  True forgiveness always entails suffering.

So the debt of wrong doesn’t vanish: Either they pay or you pay.  But here’s the irony.  Only if you pay the price of forgiveness, only if you absorb the debt, is there any chance of righting the wrong.  If you confront somebody with what they’ve done wrong while you’ve got vengeance in your heart, they probably won’t listen to you.  They’ll sense that you are not seeking justice but revenge, and they’ll reject anything you say.  You’ll just perpetuate the cycle of retaliation, retaliation, retaliation.  Only if you have refrained from vengeance and paid the cost of forgiveness will you have any hope of getting them to listen to you, of seeing their own error.  And even if they do not listen to you at first, your forgiveness breaks the cycle of further reprisals.”

Lewis on why it is important, “This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn.  WE must play.  But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.  And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner – no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippant and parodies merriment.  Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.  If he is your Christian neighbor, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ here latitat – the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”

Good Luck me.


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