A Brick in the Valley

Help “Getting” Revenge
September 3, 2007, 3:36 pm
Filed under: Forgiveness

I need your help . . . . 

I continue to work on my book on forgiveness.   I am “laboring” today on Labor Day on the chapter on revenge: I’m against it (and so is God).

Most of all realize that revenge is wrong for Christians.  Yet, I am convinced that many of us allow ourselves just a little revenge when we have been hurt.  Most revenge is not as spectacular as some Sicilian vendetta.  Rather, we have little ways of getting back.

  • A spouse is rude and insensitive.  The other withholds communication or affection.  Forgiveness is granted but only after there has been retaliation. 
  • An insensitive cousin is greeted with an icy reception at the next family dinner. 
  • A pastor behaves irresponsibly.  Phone wires burn as the offended tells his or her story to others: revenge. 

But, I’ll bet that you can help me come up with better examples.  What are some small ways that you (or someone  you know) take little measures of revenge to get back at someone when you (or they) are hurt? 


22 Comments so far
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1) I know at work, when someone is angry or hurt, They tend to even stretch the truth to make the person involved look even worse and turn others against them. So not only are they spreading gossip but lying about the person, rationalizing the person deserves it because they are so rotten.
2) In our religiosity we tend to ask for prayer request not so much for prayer but to gossip about someone with the cover of prayer. But our motive is we are angry, hurt, jealous or just don’t see eye to eye, and this is a secret way to gossip and tear down their reputation and not raise to many eyebrows. Our motives need to be evaluated regularly and held in check, or we will undoubtedly sin. I feel our motives betray us all the time and tend to cause us a fair amount of stress and conflict. Hope it helps, Marc

Comment by Marc Romine

Thanks Marc, That is helpful.

I agree with you about motives: Proverbs 16:2 – – all a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Comment by cdbrauns

Like when a patient (I’m an anesthesiologist) questions my credentials, or asks me hard questions, when I put them to sleep in the OR, I won’t give them enough anesthesia so they’re awake, but paralyzed, the whole time.

Kidding, only kidding!! I would rarely do such a thing.

Real example to follow….Talking to my wife about it.

Comment by steve hryszczuk

Sometimes just the silent treatment is worse than saying something. Also, many times I see women being very catty in their behaivor. Good luck as you labor on this holiday.

Comment by Deb Bonne

The pretense of nothing is wrong yet deep within burns destruction. As the resentment grows the offender is puzzled and has a feeling of walking on egg shells. The one who is smoldering feels a certain sense of power, and control. Soon, the one pretending is so consumed with the act, it is now affecting other relationships in their lives. It is like the stone in the lake, rippling farther and farther out.

Comment by Sheri Romine

I think with spouses in particular there are times when the angry spouse may make jokes at the spouse’s expense that kind of make fun of some trait that they know the spouse is self conscious about.
Sometimes passive aggressive behaviour where someone says they will do something knowing they have no intention of following through.
Even a teacher, professor, or supervisor who gives a lower grade or evaluation because of a past hurt. Sometimes the person might not even admit to themselves that they were influenced by a past hurt.

Comment by Mom

If you were planning on doing something for that person or to that person then not doing it. This one no one knows you are dong it.

Playing the game I will wait until they initiate something.

Comment by Jamie

I believe that family members can use revenge against one another for a lifetime – even though they say they have forgiven us or moved on. It happens when the mistakes or hurts of our past are thrown back into our faces years later. With parents, for example, it doesn’t even have to be a mistake that we have made, but as grown children we do things “our way” and parents may let us know that they disagree by using words to “get back at us.”

In my family for instance, my mother is good as using words to get her revenge. My parents have had a hard time dealing with my change from the Lutheran religion. After 11 years of marriage, my mom still makes comments about my religion that are hurtful, which is her way of getting revenge. For example, Nathan was baptized this summer in West Virginia by his PaPaw Ross, as you know. I didn’t want my parents to feel left out of the specail event, so I mentioned having a little celebration for Nathan’s baptism and inviting my family so they could watch the baptism on TV. My mother’s response was, “He didn’t get baptized in the church, so why would you have a party?” She used words to get revenge because she has never agreed with our baptismal beliefs. I just wanted her to be happy for Nathan; instead she used hurtful words to show her dissapproval. Now I just pray that if the subject is brought up again between us that God will give me the right words and that he will help me witness to her. I have learned to keep my mouth shut most of the time when she says hurtful things, otherwise it turns into an argument.

Revenge is a viscous cycle. Someone hurts us, so we need to hurt them. It goes around and around, like the gergal wheel. It is a dangerous thing that can ruin relationships. I believe it is the result of not truely and totally forgiving others when they hurt us. Is God the only one who can really forgive and forget? Even though we are Christians, is the “flesh” part of us able to get to the point of true forgiveness? God is the only one who can erase our sin. As you stressed on Sunday, being in the word, memorizing scripture and regular chuch attendance are a must for Christians, especially in situations involving forgiveness.

Sorry to ramble. My prayers are with you and your family as you write your book – I am sure it can be stressful at times.

Have a great week!

Comment by Shannon Ross

Overall, when we think of revenge, we tend to think of this as an action against other adults. However, in my day to day experiences, I have seen so many parents discipline their children in ways that border on revenge.

(How many times have you felt uncomfortable when seeing a parent discipline their child inappropriately in public?)

Quite often, parents are “inconvenienced” by a childs actions. As a result, the parent lashes out in anger, based on the wrong motivation. As parents, our sole purpose for disciplining children should be to teach them – not to make life difficult for them in order for us to get even. Everyone knows how smart and perceptive kids are. If such is the case, then we need to always check our reason and methodology when punishing a child. When parents misuse authority, they are setting the stage for resentment, anger, and mistrust from their children.

Comment by Rick

These posts are very helpful!

Comment by cdbrauns


We could go on a long time with examples couldn’t we? I have one I’m facing now. One of our deacons has given me a little grief recently and we are at loggerheads on an issue (although is a very fine man) that is causing me consternation. Some of the other deacons are upset with this man. All I have to do is nothing to get revenge on him.

Comment by Tim Smith

Tim – – you’re right – – there is no shortage of examples. But, I think yours is an especially important one because it reminds us how very subtle our revenge can be. . . most of us would not espouse the whole Sicilian think of vendettas . . . we just have some simple little ways we get back, even if it is only doing nothing.

Comment by cdbrauns

I assume revenge is our response to an action done against us that we interpret as a wrong in order to achieve some kind of quick justice that is preemptive to God’s ultimate justice whether this is done in the short term or at the judgment.

We get revenge on tailgating individuals by slowing down – subtle yet quite enjoyable.

Keying a car is not subtle, but planting seeds of character doubt with others about the one with whom you want revenge is just as malicious.

Imprecatory prayers rooted in self righteousness are very subtle.

Pastors some times get subtle revenge in the pulpit by statements that are meant for one person’s ears alone.

I agree with the silent treatment – which, in reality, is temporarily killing someone with out actually firing the gun.

Expressing happiness is a way of revenge – its goal is to infuriate the offender by a statement of care free living. “You screwed me, so now I screw you by my laughter and care free attitude” – while deep down inside overflowing with anger.

Slanted emails that say one thing but really say many other things.

Pouting and making everyone miserable.

Just a few.

Comment by Andrew Ford

Revenge has to do with control. It’s what I do when I’ve been hurt and want the hurt to boomarang. It may be passive or agressive, but either way my goal is to inflict pain in response to my own pain.

There are endless examples of jabs and stabs, and many of them are not premeditated. An opportunity materializes out of thin air, and in my spirit I say, “Aha!” and twist the knife with just a comment, a glare, or even a moment of silence.

Just yesterday, I said, “Ken, do you want to go to the pool?” He said, “No, I should mow.” His mowing in stead of coming would prevent me from having a nap in the chair. Though he was unaware of the ‘pain’ he was causing me (you know… sitting up in the chair watching the kids splash rather than laying down with my eyes closed), I jabbed, “Vacation is for family.”

I know my husband desperately wants to be a good dad, and so I selfishly and manipulatively tossed out a question of his intentions. It hurt and ignited a heated discussion.

Though this is a minor example, it parallels many of my major schemes. Revenge is about control and it is fuelled by self-centeredness. The antidote is often ‘in humility considering others’ needs more important than your own.’

Comment by Shannon

Sometimes our revenge takes the form of “competition.” We work VERY HARD to make ourselves successful, especially if it will somehow make us look better than the person who has “done us wrong”.

Thus, we take a good thing (competition, drive, desire for success, pursuit of excellence) and turn it into something ugly. Our motive is now to simply make our rival look bad, and ourselves look good!

Our revenge can also involve “sabatoging” the efforts of the person who has offended us. That can sometimes involve simply withholding assistance that could have been helpful to the offending party.

Comment by Dave Hills

Boy…what insightful messages! To me revenge is anything (physically, emotionally or mentally) that someone does to make themself feel better about their own pain. The pain that someone else has caused them. If the silent treatment is revenge, the verbal/physical fighting is revenge, the gossiping is revenge, the “doing nothing” is revenge, the praying in a certain way is revenge…..and so on, how should someone handle the “pain” someone else has delt them? Sorry if I’m going off in another direction.

Comment by Mona

No, Mona, you are not on a tangent. That is really what I am trying to address in my book – – -what is the proper way to unpack forgiveness? To deal with the pain. . . of course, I am taking a book to do it . . . so I won’t blog the answer. But, you know where to find me!

Comment by cdbrauns

Chris I know with in my marriage things I get caught up with when I get upset that bob’s doing this or that or bought something I didn’t think he needed. I catch myself over and over again falling into the same pattern of well if he can do this then I can do that or well he spent that much money so It’s only fair that I spend that much to I have to be careful about not acting childish. Be an adult about it and talk with him instead of causing more trouble

Comment by Brenda

One area I struggle with the most is a form of revenge in my marriage. I often find my husband and I arguing over my not doing things I should be. When I look to the root cause I am saddened to notice that sometimes, I don’t carry out my responsibilities as a wife because I feel as though my husband is neglecting my needs. I know in my heart this is wrong, but sometimes the flesh speaks awfully loud. I constantly have to remind myself when I catch myself behaving that way that the Christian response is to carry out my responsibilities as a wife because it is what God wants me to do, and not get caught up in the “I would if do this if you would do that” game.

Comment by Christine

Such insightful comments by so many people.

Christine’s comment about evaluating the root cause of our actions is so much what we all need to do.

Now, if I can make sure that my manuscript reflects some of the wisdom here. . . .

Comment by cdbrauns

I just wanted to thank you all for these posts…

Members of my extended family have been gossipping about my little brother and basically destroying his reputation, self esteem and my mom while their at it. I want to get revenge on them SO DESPERATELY!!! I want to hate them!

These posts have helped me find some of the peace and acceptance I’ve been looking for so that I can forgive and go on with life…

Thank you.

Comment by christine1h


I’m thankful to hear that they were an encouragement.

Notice that I am switching my blog over to http://www.chrisbrauns.com

Have a great week.


Comment by Chris Brauns

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