Are You Seeking Justice or Revenge?

Years ago, I worked at a place where I was deeply hurt. I’ll spare you the sorted details; I’ll just say that I was physically, spiritually, and emotionally drained when I finally transitioned. What happened next was something I didn’t expect. I got angry.

I never considered myself an angry person. But I was. After years of feeling mistreated, not supported, and honestly, lonely, I couldn’t process my pain in any other way than in anger. I found myself replaying situations in my head, retelling stories to those closest to me, and reliving the pain of my experience. The more I hit replay, the angrier I became.

I started saying things like, “they need to pay for what they did to me.” And, “I didn’t deserve this; they don’t deserve my forgiveness.” And little by little, the person I once was became consumed with getting justice for my pain.

Except, what I desired wasn’t justice at allit was revenge.

Justice, at its very core, means “to make right.” It’s a relational term that demands a price be paid for the wrongs committed, so that right relationship can exist. With that definition, it would seem like “justice” was the right word to use in that situation. The issue is, as a follower of Jesus, the cry for justice must be motivated by something more than my own feelings.

See, I wasn’t interested in just “feeling better” or even an apology. I didn’t want to be friends with those who hurt me. I didn’t even entertain the thought of forgiving them. I wanted three years of my life back. I wanted to see them hurt exactly how I was hurting. I wanted to keep my job, my home & the people who I loved, instead of moving away. I wanted them to lose it all, just like I had.

Here’s the problem: none of what I wanted would fix my pain, make it right, or bring right relationship. None of what I wanted was actually justice.

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who’s ever experienced these feelings. Whether a big or small offense, the pain is very real. But in our pain, we need to be cautious that we are seeking justice, and not revenge. There’s a fine line, but a world of difference, between them.

  • Revenge might feel good in the moment, but leaves you feeling empty; Justice brings lasting peace.
  • Revenge insights bring harm toward the one who hurt you; Justice brings people into right relationship.
  • Revenge is motivated by anger, fear, frustration & pain; Justice is motivated by the heart of God.
  • Revenge leads to more pain; Justice makes things right.

So how do you seek justice? Look to Christ.

Jesus, though he was completely blameless, experienced injustice on the cross. He was punished for wrongs he didn’t commit so that the guilty could be set free (2 Corinthians 5:21). But his death did more than give us freedom; it brought us back into right relationship with God.

Through this same sacrificial act, God promised to bring true justice in all things. He is continually working to bring the whole world into right relationship. When we seek justice outside of knowing Christ, we risk seeking revenge. We become motivated by our own versions of justice, which will always be a moving target. But, as we grow in our relationship with Him, we begin to understand His heart for real justice.

It’s normal for all of us to want revenge when we’re hurt, but as followers of Jesus, let’s seek Him for His justice.
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1 Comment

Jasmine - January 30th, 2024 at 3:10pm

Thank you for this. It’s hard for me to sleep sometimes thinking about injustice.The big ones against humanity and the small ones against my person and family. I see that there will not be justice in my time and the negative impact will continue to affect my child through her life. I only want relief from this sense of helplessness. In my heart it feels like given the history and the words of our abusers, there is only one way for it to end. It hurts my heart and makes me feel wrathful seeing that there is no way to escape this abuse. The powerful can crush the weak with impunity. I want to expose our abuser. I want let the truth of there actions remove them from a position of power but also Ive been feeling relief imagining them experiencing justice. Fearing the loss of control over their circumstances at the cost of their actions. Imagining them coming to justice alone feels like relief. We have no legal path and have drastically less resources. We like millions have fallen in the cracks with no justice. In this instance its been nearly 20 years of forgiving abuse that has ramped up to extremes. We've tried to escape it. I just want to not feel like its separating my heart from grace at 3 in the morning when I cant stop myself from thinking about how relieved we would be if one person was in a fatal accident, how many peoples suffering would end. God forgive me. 🙏🏻 anyways. If you actually read this please pray for my family and all victims who never see justice to at least find relief from wickedness in our hearts.

Btw: this sounds really crummy, and its not intended that way-I only want this to help more people like me and maybe this little thing stops someone from taking this lovely post from helping others.

You wrote “I’ll spare you the *(sorted*) details; I’ll just say that I was physically, spiritually, and emotionally drained when I finally transitioned”-I think you intended to use the word SORDID and were using typing AI or something similar and it didn't catch the context or meaning. Or maybe your like me and sometimes things like this got lost in communication context and you just went with it. Again just being hopefully helpful and not pedantic or crummy!

Anyways, thank you again so much for this! Fellow hurt human being🙏🏻 I appreciate your wisdom.






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