READING: Genesis 32-34
They had a right to be horribly angry. Shechem, son of Hamor the Hittite, had raped their sister Dinah. He said he loved her, but still he had taken her and used her for himself. No wonder her brothers were filled with rage.
They may have had reason to be angry, but they didn’t have a right to respond in sin. Their response was both deceitful and brutal. They falsely agreed to allow intermarriage with the Shechemites as long as all their men agreed to be circumcised — and they then attacked the men as they recovered from their circumcision:
Gen. 34:25 On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords, went into the unsuspecting city, and killed every male.
Murder, they thought, was the right response to exact revenge on the rapist and his people. The crime of rape was reprehensible, but so was the murder that followed.
This story is, of course, an extreme example of ungodly revenge. I hope that none of us would go so far to exact justice on others who’ve hurt us or our family. Sometimes, though, our heart leans in the same direction: we won’t forgive those who hurt us until they’ve been hurt, too. When and if we see them paying a price, we’ll at least consider letting go of our anger.
I’m not arguing here that sinful people should not be held accountable for their actions. They should. In fact, they must. I’m simply arguing that when we respond with bitterness and anger and unforgiveness and revenge, the enemy wins on both accounts.
On the other hand, God’s divine plan shows us that forgiving our human enemies somehow breaks the power of our supernatural enemy, the devil. Forgiving is, in fact, freeing.
ACTION STEPS: Consider these steps today:
- Confess to God any anger you’re choosing not to release.
- Ask Him to give you grace to forgive anyone against whom you are holding a grudge.
- Do the love of God toward one of your enemies today. Show His love by surprisingly doing good for someone who has hurt you.
PRAYER: “God, show me how to love like You do — not compromising your standards against sin, but being willing to forgive sinners. Break any stronghold of unforgiveness I have today.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Genesis 35-37