14 And when they had sworn by all that had been forbidden them by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that they would go up unto their enemies to battle, and avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren, behold the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying:
15 Vengeance is mine, and I will repay; and because this people repented not after I had delivered them, behold, they shall be cut off from the face of the earth.
As human beings, we have an innate desire for justice and fairness. This desire can motivate us to Christlike action, to serve those who are suffering and to strive to repair things that are broken. But it can also motivate us to get even with people who harm us and to punish people who we believe have done wrong. Throughout the scriptures, the Lord teaches us not to take justice into our own hands:
- He commanded the children of Israel, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18). Jesus identified the latter part of that verse as the second most important commandment in the law of Moses (Matthew 22:39).
- The Lord later taught the children of Israel that He would ensure that justice ultimately prevailed: “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence” (Deuteronomy 32:35).
- The Apostle Paul combined these two scriptures in his epistle to the Romans: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
- Mormon resigned his post as commander of the Nephite armies because their fundamental goal in fighting their enemies was revenge (see the passage above).
- Moroni urged us not to judge rashly by reminding us: “Behold what the scripture says—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay” (Mormon 8:20).
Today, I will watch for situations where I feel vindictive. I will intentionally choose not to act on that feeling and will leave justice in the hands of God.