Way down upon the Mississippi, two tugboat captains who had been friends for years, would always cry "Aye!" and blow their whistles whenever they passed each other.
A new crewman asked his boat's mate, "What do they do that for?"
The mate looked surprised and replied, "You mean that you've never heard ... an aye for an aye and a toot for a toot?"
[Insert groan here!]
I suspect that few of us would admit to living by the motto, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" (Matthew 5:38), but let's be honest — there is something inside us that enjoys the idea of getting revenge. Some of the more popular movies throughout the past years have been those that opened with someone being mistreated. We'll spend the rest of the movie anxiously waiting for the hero to get the opportunity to exact his revenge — and then we cheer!
It's not much different on a personal level. I suspect that whenever somebody does you wrong, the temptation is there to immediately start thinking of what you can do to get them back. However, if you find yourself tempted to take revenge, may I suggest two things:
- Resist the temptation to exchange evil for evil.
That temptation will always be strong and we need realize that it will be there. But we also need to remember the emptiness and hollowness of revenge and resentment.
- Show your enemy kindness.
Abraham Lincoln was once accused of being too nice to his enemy. He was told to be firmer; he must destroy his enemies. He replied, "I do destroy them when they become my friends."
[Jesus said] "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." (Matthew 5:43-44)