One of the greatest test of a person’s character is the test of an opportunity for revenge—especially if it is a golden opportunity! If you have the perfect opportunity to take revenge on an unjust act done against you, and all the circumstances of life line up just right to make it easy and quick, and on top of it all your friends advice you to take the opportunity, what will you do?

Here is how Christians pass the test:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Romans 12:19 (ESV)

One of the most vivid examples of a righteous man maintaining his integrity in a golden opportunity for revenge is recorded for us in 1 Samuel 24. At this point God has already communicated His choice of David as king (1 Sam 16), and has already communicated His rejection of Saul as king (1 Samuel 15). David is righteous; Saul is maliciously vindictive. David is successful; Saul is fear-driven. David loves the nation; Saul essentially started a civil war. David’s men love him and are loyal to him; Saul’s men are traitors. David has done nothing wrong against Saul; Saul has done only wrong repeatedly against David.

David is fleeing one day, and as circumstance will have it, has a brief moment where the tables are turned—David has an opportunity to kill Saul. The setting is seemingly arranged by God Himself. There is great secrecy as Saul is alone. All David’s friends confirm that it would be the right thing to do. David doesn’t. David opts for a much lesser form of vengeance, and then even repents of that!

That day in David’s life proves what this verse teaches. A wrong done to us is never fixed by a wrong done by us. Instead, God will avenge all evil—so be sure to rest in God’s vengeance on the evil deeds of others and do not add your sin to the list calling out for justice.

Imitate Jesus. It is better to suffer a wrong than to commit a wrong. It is better to cry out to God than to save yourself.