Scripture: “Do not seek revenge or
bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the Lord.” Lev. 19:18, NIV
horse drowned in the river. Enraged at the insolence of the river, the
king threatened so to break its strength that in the future even women should
cross it easily without wetting their knees. Accordingly he put off for a
time his attack on Babylon, and, dividing his army into two parts, he marked
out by ropes one hundred and eighty trenches on each side of the Gyndes,
leading off from it in all directions, and setting his army to dig, some
on one side of the river, some on the other, he accomplished his threat by
the aid of so great a number of hands, but not without losing thereby the
whole summer season.
(Cyrus Captures Babylon Account in 539 B.C. Herodotus, Book I, para
An extreme reaction? King Cyrus never-the-less acted
in spite to thwart the river, dividing it into 360 channels.
Another Persian king, Xerxes, fighting against Greece,
decided to cross the Bosporus, building a boat bridge with each boat connected
to the other with planks. This bridge would be over a mile long and required
a perfectly calm sea. On several attempts winds and rough seas broke it
apart. Frustrated and enraged, Xerxes ordered that the Bosporus receive
three hundred lashes with a chain. Properly chastened, the sea remained
calm and the bridge was completed.
The kings, Cyrus and Xerxes, acting out of petty
ill will, attempted to irritate, annoy, or thwart the forces of nature. Now
Yes, I’ve been hitting the Word Books again. As usual,
one good word leads to another, and spite has some juicy synonyms, beginning
with ‘malice,’ and increasing in severity: malevolence, ill
will, malignity, spleen, and grudge. MALICE implies a deep-seated often un-explainable desire to see
another suffer. MALEVOLENCE suggests a bitter persistent hatred that is
likely to be expressed in malicious conduct. SPLEEN suggests the wrathful release of latent spite or persistent
malice. GRUDGE implies a harbored feeling of resentment or ill will that
The Bible speaks often about the downward path of
malice. Paul advises to rid oneself of malice; see Eph. 4:31 and Col. 3:8.
Peter, also, calls us as Christians to be holy (1 Peter 1:13-16) and to
rid ourselves of malice (2:1)
. The old maxim to “cut off the nose to spite the
face” speaks well to the perils of spite. Harboring ill will, nursing a grudge,
plotting revenge, all stem from anger that ulcerates the soul. We are in
danger of cutting ourselves off from the body of Christ. Rather, as Jesus
counseled, forgive others their sins (Mt. 6:15.)
Turn the other cheek. (Mt. 5:38-41)
As Paul wrote to the Romans, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible,
as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge,
my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘it is mine
to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:17-19, NIV
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