Wishing harm or death upon another person is a grievous sin in the eyes of God. As Christians, we are called to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, and pray for the wellbeing of all people – even those who mistreat us (Matthew 5:44). Though it may be tempting in moments of anger or resentment, we must refrain from wishing ill upon others, and instead follow the example of Christ who prayed for the forgiveness of those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34).
In this post, we will explore what the Bible teaches about wishing death or harm upon people who have wronged us. We will look at Scriptural arguments against this sinful attitude and highlight the godly responses we should have instead. My hope is that this post will convict readers to turn from any bitterness or anger, and embrace the radical love that Christ demonstrated to us.
- Wishing harm on others is a grievous sin that goes against Christ’s command to love our enemies
- Scripture strongly condemns those who desire the death or ruin of others
- Cursing people made in God’s image reflects hatred and breaks His commands
- We must bless and pray for the wellbeing of those who mistreat us
- Vengeance belongs to the Lord; He will repay evil, so we should forgive
- God can bring amazing redemption even from those who oppose the Gospel
- Jesus is our model of forgiving and praying for enemies who crucified Him
- Key Takeaways:
- It is a Grievous Sin Against Christ's Commands
- Scripture Strongly Condemns Desiring Harm or Ruin on Others
- Cursing People Made in God's Image Reflects Hatred
- We Should Instead Bless and Pray For Our Enemies
- Vengeance Belongs to the Lord Who Will Repay
- God Can Redeem Even Those Who Oppose the Gospel
- Jesus Is Our Model for Forgiving and Praying for Enemies
It is a Grievous Sin Against Christ’s Commands
Most clearly, wishing death or harm on someone goes directly against Jesus Christ’s repeated command that we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27-28 NKJV)
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44 NKJV)
As Christians, we do not have the option to cling to bitterness or resentment. Jesus calls us to a radical response of returning evil with love and blessing those who harm us. Wishing death or ruin on another person clearly goes against this command and should be renounced as sin.
The Apostle Paul echoes Christ’s instructions about loving enemies and overcoming evil with good.
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 12:19-21 NKJV)
Scripture Strongly Condemns Desiring Harm or Ruin on Others
In addition to going against Christ’s command to love our enemies, the Bible contains many verses that specifically condemn wishing harm or death on another person. We must rid ourselves of the dangerous attitude that desire another person’s ruin.
King David spoke strongly against such a vengeful spirit, saying “Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.” But he concluded by saying “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:21-24 NKJV) Though David initially felt strong hatred toward God’s enemies, He ultimately asked the Lord to search his heart and remove any wickedness or desire for harm.
The prophet Ezekiel records God’s rebuke of Israel’s enemies saying “Because you clapped your hands, stamped your feet, and rejoiced in heart with all your disdain for the land of Israel, indeed, therefore, I will stretch out My hand against you and give you as plunder to the nations…” (Ezekiel 25:6-7 NKJV). However, though God said He would punish Israel’s enemies, the people were not to share in this vengeful spirit. Rather than rejoicing, they were to earnestly pray for their enemies with compassion.
Wishing harm on others often arises from a sense of personal offense and anger. But Proverbs 19:11 warns that it is “a man’s wisdom” to “overlook an offense.” Rather than resenting mistreatment and wishing revenge, we should follow Christ in forgiving our enemies.
The Psalms also forbid the hatred and anger that leads to desiring harm on others: “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.” (Psalm 37:8 NKJV) “Do not say, “I will recompense evil”; Wait for the Lord, and He will save you.” (Proverbs 20:22 NKJV)
Cursing People Made in God’s Image Reflects Hatred
Human life is sacred, as all people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Cursing them or wishing them harm expresses hatred for that which God has made. This is dangerously close to what Christ condemned the Pharisees for when they called people “fools.”
But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:22 NKJV)
Though we may think our anger is justified, most often it is “without cause” as Christ said. We are not seeing people through His redemptive eyes. Wishing harm on anyone made in God’s image not only fails to love them as He commands but essentially despises and curses them.
We Should Instead Bless and Pray For Our Enemies
Rather than respond to mistreatment with curses, Scripture commands us to bless and pray for the wellbeing of those who persecute us. As Jesus said:
“Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:28, 36 NIV)
This blessing refers to speaking well of and desiring the true good of those who have harmed us. We ask God to grant them, not harm, but repentance and salvation.
Paul told the believers in Corinth who were suffering persecution “when we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.” (1 Corinthians 4:12-13 NIV) He sets a high standard of not returning evil for evil but responding with kindness.
Even after being stoned nearly to death in Lystra, Paul got up and went back into the city to continue preaching the Gospel to the very ones who had harmed him (Acts 14:19-20). He chose love and redemption over resentment and curses.
Similarly, we must pray for the salvation of those who have persecuted us. For God may use our prayers and witness to draw them to repentance and eternal life, as with the Apostle Paul himself.
Vengeance Belongs to the Lord Who Will Repay
A key reason why Christians must not wish harm on their enemies is because vengeance belongs to the Lord. Scripture says:
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19 NKJV)
Deuteronomy 32:35 also warns that judgment and vengeance belong to God alone. Our role is to forgive our enemies and leave ultimate justice in His hands.
Though it may be tempting to wish God’s judgment would fall on someone who has wronged us, we must instead desire their salvation and trust God to be the perfect judge.
Even powerful angels recognize that vengeance is the Lord’s alone. When disputing over Moses’ body, the archangel Michael “did not bring against [Satan] a reviling accusation, but said ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” (Jude 1:9 NKJV). So we should avoid reviling accusations against our adversaries, even spiritual forces of evil, and intercede for God’s mercy upon them.
God Can Redeem Even Those Who Oppose the Gospel
Not only should we avoid wishing harm but pray for our enemies’ salvation, for God may use even those who oppose the Gospel for redemption. The Apostle Paul is a key example of this.
He admits, “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.” (Acts 22:4 NKJV). Yet Christ appeared to Him on the Damascus road and turned this enemy of the faith into its greatest missionary.
The crowd in Jerusalem reacted violently against Paul, stoning him nearly to the point of death. But again this enemy of their faith was redeemed by God’s grace. Paul later returned to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and continue preaching the Gospel.
Rather than wishing harm on the persecutors of the early church, the Apostles prayed for their enemies’ salvation. While persecuted by King Herod, “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” (Acts 12:5 NKJV) Similarly, we must earnestly pray for the redemption of those who persecute the church today.
Jesus Is Our Model for Forgiving and Praying for Enemies
Most importantly, Jesus Christ Himself is the perfect model of forgiving, blessing and praying for His enemies. As He was mocked, beaten and nailed to the cross, Christ prayed over His persecutors saying “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NKJV)
Though the crowd had shouted “Crucify Him!”, Jesus did not wish harm to come upon them. He understood they were acting in ignorance and needed God’s compassion, not vengeance.
So we must follow our Savior’s example when faced with persecution. By God’s strength, we can choose to forgive rather than resent, to bless rather than curse, and to pray for our enemies’ salvation rather than punishment.
In summary, though it may be tempting to wish death or harm upon those who wrong us, the Bible strongly condemns this vengeful spirit. Desiring another’s ruin goes against Christ’s command to love our enemies. We are to bless and pray for the wellbeing of those who persecute us, leaving ultimate justice and vengeance to God alone.
Rather than resenting the lost for opposing the Gospel, our mission is to pray for their redemption, following the example of Christ who forgave even those who crucified Him. By walking in love and forgiveness, we can overcome evil with good and be used by God to draw persecutors of the faith to Himself through His mercy.