[412 words]

“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21).

I have a relative that is serving time in prison for not following this scripture. A horrible man had committed unspeakable crimes against his own daughters. My cousin got up one night and drove to this man’s house and shot him. It wasn’t self- defense.  He decided to mete out justice, in his mind. He shot the man and thought him dead. He called the authorities and waited. The man lived.

My relative “came to himself” when he realized what he did was so wrong. He had never been in trouble before, not even a ticket. Yet, he admitted everything in court and received his sentence. It was a mandatory 20 year sentence for attempted murder in his state. He took it as well as you could. Because he had no record the judge allowed him a month to get his things in order and report back.

After going to prison, his boss, who held his former employee in high regard, got another lawyer and filed an appeal. Under the appeal, the judge was given more latitude and discretion in his sentencing. She believed he would never be a threat again and promptly reduced his sentence to 5 years, no parole.

What is the point to my little story? We must allow God to be Judge and the One to mete out punishment. When we do mess up, do what is right and take ownership of the mess you created. There are consequences to bad behavior, but God is still merciful. He is just. My faith in God grew even stronger as I had been praying for my relative. The man my cousin shot, lived, but was exposed in his hometown. My cousin will not die as an old man in prison. I would say that God can take bad situations and turn them into constructive ones. Believe it!

Chris Moore
Clarendon, TX

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