Many Christians, especially older ones, decry the constant menu of sex and nudity, vulgarity and violence that is hurled at the viewers of the modern motion picture screen. They long for "the good old days" when there were "good movies" with the likes of John Wayne.
No disrespect to John Wayne, but a recurring theme in old westerns and thousands of other type movies we call "good" is revenge. A well-written script and well-directed movie will make you feel it, believe it and cheer it. You know the theme. The bad guy kills, injures, or otherwise inflicts insult of the family of the good guy. The good guy tries to avoid retaliation, welling up in the viewers to want it all the more. Finally, yes, finally and joyfully, the good guy kills the bad guy. Revenge is sweet. Justice is served. Yes!!! (Sometimes it's not even that subtle and we still like it.)
And then we read the words of Jesus Christ and Paul:
Matthew 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Who can fully believe those exortations, when we've felt the inner joy of just retaliation? It must be right. It feels right! It must be right. But, Christian, whom will you believe? Screenwriters and directors or the words of Jesus Christ and His apostle? Someone has said, "Revenge permeates our culture because it permeates the human unconscious." If true, how much more must the word of God permeate our conscious and unconscious?
Vengeance is best left in the hands of the Lord because:
1. Retaliation and revenge is a never-ending cycle. The movie always ends once the good guy has gotten revenge. All is well. In real life there is no end to the cycle. One retaliation breeds another...and another...and another. There will never be an end until someone turns the other cheek.
2. God is all-knowing. He knows when and how to punish. He knows how much to pay. We humans cannot see all or know all. We don't know the motivation of the smite to the right cheek, or even our motivation for striking back. We don't know when to stop or how to right the wrong.
Let us be right by rendering good for evil instead of evil for evil. When we render evil for evil, there is just that much more evil in the world. When we repay good for evil, there is one small glimpse of heaven on earth.
Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil.
Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.