"Make it a habit to see (or: observe) [that] no one may (or: would) give back (render, discharge, display) evil in place of evil (or: something ugly as opposition to something ugly; worthlessness in exchange for worthlessness; what ought not to be in exchange for what ought not to be; poor quality for poor quality; wrongdoing for wrongdoing; injury in the face of injury) to anyone, but to the contrary, continue to always pursue (follow rapidly; run swiftly to acquire; chase after) the good (the excellent; the virtuous) unto [the benefit of] each other as well as unto all people."
1 Thess. Mitchell Translation.
That's no fun!
Removing opportunities for revenge/retaliation after being wronged is...just wrong. Why be denied the pleasure of an aptly time zinger that can put someone in their well deserved place?
If a person's sloppy work makes my job harder, why not return the favor? They might even learn a lesson if I do. Shouldn't cheaters and swindlers receive the same treatment they dish out? They might think twice before they try their old tricks again. Misery loves company so why suffer alone? Paul, you spoilsport, you've made enduring hardship much more difficult.
The apostle could have written the book on suffering and surviving hard knocks. He had more authorized visits from the Un-Welcome Wagon than most of us. Labeled a false teacher along with other nasty accusations Paul, using his training and skills, could have held his own and prevailed against most opponents. On occasion he slipped into that mode, but for the most part he lived 1 Thess. 5:15.
It's not only hard to be nice to those who mistreat you, but also it's difficult to wish them well and bless them. What they really need is a good, swift kick in the pants. Pray to be more like Jesus? Disagreeable people and hard circumstances might be the answer to your request.
As I child, I envisioned Jesus as a sort of "bubble boy" floating through life immune from and above the fray. Nasty words, snubs and cruel actions bounced off His invisible shield. Bingo - back at ya!
I know better now.
Jesus experienced the same "urge to kill" we feel, but He never gave in to it. He learned to curb His tongue and not lash out in anger, although He could say some pretty hard things in love. Tempted to deliver some powerful five-fold ministry via His closed fist, He restrained Himself. Jesus was no wimp. He knew how to pick His battles and how to avoid revenge and vengeance. His weapon of choice, even when it meant a well-deserved confrontation, was always love. Love never fails.
Paul encourages us to do the same. Neither easy nor fast, this way always works. The best part about love is it always wins.
How about you? How have you been tempted to avenge yourself when you were wronged? How did you respond? What good came out of it? Are you willing to do what is right if things don't change or even get worse? How and when have you seen love prevail over adverse circumstances.