Wishing harm or misfortune on others is a serious matter. As Christians, we are called to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who mistreat us (Matthew 5:44). However, in moments of anger or pain, we may be tempted to wish that bad things would happen to someone who has wronged us. What does the Bible say about this?
- Wishing harm on others is sinful and goes against Jesus’ teachings to love our enemies
- We should pray for our enemies and those who persecute us, not wish evil on them
- God tells us to overcome evil with good and leave vengeance to Him
- Cursing or wishing curses on people was forbidden and punishable by law in the Old Testament
- We will be judged by the same standard we use to judge others
- Pray for a change of heart rather than punishment when people wrong you
Wishing Harm Is Against Jesus’ Teachings
Jesus directly addressed the issue of loving our enemies and not retaliating:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 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, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45 NKJV)
He made it clear we should love and pray for our enemies, not hate them or wish them harm. This teaching goes against our natural human instincts for revenge. However, as Christians seeking to follow Christ’s example, we are called to a higher standard.
The apostle Paul also instructs us:
“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 NKJV)
Again, we are told not to avenge ourselves or wish harm, but to love our enemies and overcome evil with good. This reflects God’s desire for us to show grace and leave ultimate justice and vengeance to Him. Wishing harm on others takes God’s place and goes against His Word.
Prayer Over Punishment
The natural reaction when someone hurts or wrongs us is to want them to suffer in return. However, God calls us to a higher response. 1 Peter 3:9 says, “not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” (NKJV)
Rather than wishing evil or harm on our enemies, we should pray for their repentance and for God to change their hearts. Jesus set the example when He prayed for those crucifying Him, saying “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NKJV) Stephen followed Christ’s example, praying for the forgiveness of those stoning him (Acts 7:60).
Wishing punishment on someone often stems from a desire for revenge. But as Romans 12:19 reminds us, vengeance belongs to God alone. Instead of wrath, we should have compassion and intercede for others through prayer. As Proverbs 24:17-18 warns, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him.”
Overcome Evil with Good
It can be incredibly difficult to let go of offenses and have God’s heart for those who persecute us. We may feel justified in wishing harm would come upon them as punishment. But Romans 12:21 gives a powerful principle for overcoming these vengeful desires: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
This means actively choosing to counter evil with blessing. When someone wrongs you, instead of wishing them harm, you can:
- Pray for their repentance and restoration
- Forgive them from your heart
- Show unexpected kindness in return
- Look for ways to bless them
- Leave judgment and vengeance to God
We have to daily surrender our natural inclination for revenge to the Holy Spirit. As we do, He transforms our vindictive wishes into intercession, compassion and blessing. This overcomes evil with good.
God Forbids Cursing People
In the Old Testament Law, cursing people was strictly forbidden. Leviticus 19:14 states, “You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the LORD.” Cursing the vulnerable was an especially heinous sin. But cursing anyone made one liable to punishment under the law.
Exodus 22:28 gives a stern warning: “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.” Peter echoes this principle in Acts 23:5, when Paul apologizes for speaking harshly about the high priest, saying “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'”
Proverbs 3:33 declares, “The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just.” As Christians, we do not have the authority to pronounce curses. Only God curses, and only on those who persistently reject Him and choose evil. We must guard our hearts against wishing curses on others and leave judgment to the Lord.
Judged by Our Own Standard
Jesus also gave this stern warning that should make us hesitate to wish harm on others:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2 NKJV)
The judgment and condemning thoughts we aim at others will be measured back on us. The harm we wish on them can return upon our own heads. This principle of reaping what we sow should motivate us to show mercy and pray for blessing, not judgment. As James 2:13 states, “mercy triumphs over judgment.”
Wishing harm or curses on our enemies is completely opposed to Jesus’ teachings and example. As Christians, we are called to a higher way – loving those who persecute us, praying for their repentance, forgiving from the heart, and overcoming evil with good.
Vengeance is God’s alone. We must not usurp His authority. Allow Him to deal with people justly in His time. Our role is to intercede and show grace. This applies even when people cruelly harm us. Pray for their redemption, not punishment.
Check your own heart before God. Confess any place where you have wished evil on others, asked for curses, or wanted them to suffer. Then pray blessing over those who have wronged you. Ask the Holy Spirit to soften your heart and take away any desire for revenge.
As 1 John 4:20 reminds us, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” Our relationships reveal our true spiritual state.
Wishing harm on others only breeds more harm. God’s way is healing, redemption, and breaking cycles of hatred through unconditional love. May He help us walk this out daily through the power of Christ in us.