Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him. But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent. Now then, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, because the Lord has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal… If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the Lord your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. And when the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord working salvation himself. (1 Samuel 25:25-31)
It is commonly thought that religion leads to violence. The logic goes something like this: since religious people believe they are the only ones going to heaven, they therefore see themselves as superior and are justified in violence toward others. While that logic may apply for religion in general, Christianity doesn’t fit for at least two important reasons. One, Christians don’t believe they are superior but inferior. Christianity isn’t a reward for righteous living but a source of grace and forgiveness for those who know they cannot make it on their own. Thus, it does not lead to pride and superiority, but humility. Second, as we see in this passage above, David is set free from pursuing his own vengeance because he trusts in the Lord. Violence often erupts when we seek justice for the wrongs done to us (or loved ones or our cause) and don’t trust anyone else to deliver it. But Christians worship a God who is just. Nothing escapes his notice and nothing escapes his justice. As the Lord explains in the utterance of his name to Moses, “I will by no means clear the guilty…” The Christian can set aside vengeance because he believes in a God who will take care of it.
On a practical level, this means brothers can forgive each other rather than pay each other back for the punches, insults, and/or “borrowing” of their things. Believing we worship a just God is the key to brothers dwelling in unity!
Lord, thank you for your justice and thank for you Jesus who paid the penalty for me! Would you fuel me with this reminder that I might be free to forgive others.