Below my own thoughts here, is a piece written by Christine Wyrtzen, of Daughters of Promise.
Believe it or not, there are those who actually feel a sense of pleasure at the idea of punishing someone with whom they are offended. Oh, they would never call it "punishment" - they would call it "standing for what they believe is right."
I have wondered at this, sometimes. I have asked myself, "How can this be?"
Well, Mrs. Wyrtzen has nailed it for me, I think. It's a feeling of high. The temporary rush, the feeling of power that the punisher's sophisticated version of vindication brings them causes them to believe they are in perfect control as they rachet up what they imagine to be the appropriate punishment. (Er - I mean "just consequences".) I have actually observed a weird sense of satisfaction on the face of this kind of person, as offspring, sibling, friend or parent emotionally reaches their limit, under the pressure of a cold, calm and precise punishment, and reacts to it.
This temporary and strange pleasure, each and every time they experience the sense, numbs their conscience yet further. The self deception gets stronger and stronger. The punishments they dole out become increasingly dramatic until they either get their way, or completely separate themselves from others, send them away, drive them away, or otherwise destroy the relationship permanently - and feel justified in doing so. They will wait months and even years, and suddenly find an opportunity to feel the pleasure of punishment - and they will act on it.
All the while, they create a sense of guilt in the person they are punishing...it somehow has to be the punish-ee's fault, always. The punish-ers will expect everyone else to act like nothing has changed. They will say that they mean no harm. Well, just because they say it, doesn't make it so. To them, their choice to continue to punish seems educated, controlled, superior, and right. In reality, it is as craving and base a choice as any drug-junkie makes, only they are control-junkies. They cannot see that their heart is as fat as grease - engorged in the satisfaction of provoking all the stupid people in their lives.
Please, Lord, let me never get a fraction of a moment of pleasure from hurting someone else, whether I imagine they deserve consequences or not. Make me miserable, in Your great mercy, so that my heart does not fatten in satisfaction.
Hearts like that eventually stop beating altogether. That thought fills me with compassion for those addicted to punishing others. There is no way they are innately happy people - they only know their small version of happiness, and they truly believe what they know is all there is to know.
Kudos to Christine Wyrtzen, Daughters of Promise (http://www.daughtersofpromise.org/), for this well-put, succinct teaching. It gives a much needed perspective!
CAUSE AND EFFECT
The insolent smear me with lies; their heart is unfeeling like fat.
Psalm 119: 69a, 70a
The effect is given before the cause. Behavior ~ concocting a series of lies about another person for personal payoff. Cause ~ their heart has been fattened by pleasure and has, over time, ceased to feel remorse over their sin.
A rebellious child acts out and others give him what he wants. He sets this pattern for himself for a lifetime. He wears personal power recklessly. He survives by acting in whatever ways will meet his needs. The pleasure he feels becomes his drug of choice; so much so that he ceases to regret the acts he committed in order to ultimately feel good. There is no remorse.
We may have asked the question, "How could this person do this to me and not even feel badly that they hurt me?" This scripture is enlightening and answers the question. The pleasure they got by sinning against you numbed their conscience.
Probably every one of us have been hurt deeply by someone who never offered an apology. They saw our tears, heard our pain expressed, but shrugged their shoulders. We just couldn't understand such coldness of heart. God is our instructor today. An unfeeling heart develops over time, never overnight. It belongs to the person who has been fattened by the pleasures of his choices, even choices that caused pain to someone he claims to love.
Only God can transform the heart of a sinner. Only God can comfort the victims.
Jesus, you knew the hearts of men. You were not deceived. Teach me to look beyond their behavior to the spiritual cause. I need to pray for others' spiritual disease instead of just asking you to stop their behavior. Spirit, show me how to pray. Amen