|I'll get even with that fellow if it takes ten years.| Thus declared a man about another who had wronged him, as his eyes flashed with passion and his teeth set firmly with resolve. In his heart he determined to do his enemy as great an injury as his enemy had done him. |Get even,| I thought; |what does it mean to get even?| Then appeared before my mind's eye a view of the various classes of humanity, each person in the scale of morality where his life had placed him. I saw the Christian on God's plane of holiness and truth. Far below him stood the moral though unchristian man, and down, down, step by step, my mental eye beheld man to the lowest depth of moral degradation.
Vile and wrong deeds always degrade man to a lower state. Every evil deed, word, or thought lowers us in moral being. If some one has done evil toward us, he has lowered himself by that act; and for us to decide to |get even| by a similar act toward him is for us to decide that we will lower ourselves to his level. To |get even| means to get on the same level. It means to abase and degrade ourselves. If we |get even,| we are as bad as he, and worthy that others look upon us with the same feelings with which we regard him. If you want to get even with any one, do not choose some one below you, but some one above you in moral attainments, and labor to attain to his height, instead of the other's depths. This will ennoble you, make you better, and be worthy of a reasoning being.
The principle of revenge has no part in Christianity. God refuses to let us avenge ourselves, no difference what the provocation nor how good the opportunity for vengeance. He says, |Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good| (Rom.12: 19-21). |Recompense to no man evil for evil| (verse 17). |See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men| (1 Thess.5: 15). When one who is a Christian so far forgets what is right that he stoops to take vengeance, he is then upon the level of the sinner who did him evil, and is himself a sinner, and is fallen from his high position to the level of sin. God forbids us to threaten to |get even| with anyone. |Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work| (Prov.24: 29).
The spirit of Christianity is to render good for evil, blessing for cursing, love for hatred. The blood of Christ will wash away the |get even| disposition from us; and until we are thus cleansed, let us not presume to call ourselves by that holy name of Him who |when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.| Good is stronger than evil. Evil used against evil, begets more evil; but we may |overcome evil with good.|
I once asked a man why he did not become a Christian. He replied that there were so many in his business who were trying to get the financial advantage of him that he could not do right, but must do the same with them or he could not |keep even.|
But let us see what it really means to be |even.| If a man lies about me, and to get even I lie about him, then we are even. He is a liar and I am a liar -- both on the same plane. He is going to the judgment to give account for his lie and so am I for mine -- even again. If he does not repent, he will go to hell for lying; and if I do not repent, I shall go, too. Yes, we may get even, but I would rather not be so. If a man beats me out of ten dollars, to get even I must watch my chance to do likewise to him. If I do not try to beat him to get even, he may have more money in his pocket than I; but if I turn the matter over for settlement to Him who said, |Vengeance is mine; I will repay,| when the final account is rendered, I shall be ten dollars or more ahead.
Let us not endeavor to be |even| with our enemies by taking vengeance, but let us do right and win them to the gospel by overcoming evil with good. Let us get even by raising others up instead of lowering ourselves to their sinful level. Be a blessing to all. Set a right example.