“You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” (Matt 5:38:42 NASB)
In the Old Testament and even in the book of revelation, and sprinkled throughout the letters of Peter, Paul, James and Jude we get a picture of God as a warrior king, and so He is, trouncing His enemies. We see Saul cast out of his throne (or at least his kingly anointing) in part because he did not utterly destroy God’s enemies. It can give us a sense of God that is a bit distorted.
For the next couple days I want to briefly unpack these 5 impossible responses to our enemies that Jesus lays out.
First: “But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil”
Ok – Jesus is not talking about the devil here – let’s be clear – You MUST resist the devil, and he MUST flee. Do not lay down your defenses against the fiery darts of the devil flings at you in the form of words and thoughts.
What Jesus is talking about are your human “enemies.” As a child of the king, and a son of God, your enemies are not flesh and blood. So if you perceive a man or woman to be your enemy, you are confused.
Does Jesus just want us to stand there and take a beating and never make a sound?
That is a really good question. I am going to walk carefully here. I would not want to contradict Jesus, but I also want to say there are times we need to get out of harms way, rather than continuing to take a beating.
Jesus only addresses the first slap. He does not tell us to – for example – stay in an abusive relationship. To stay, for example, in a marriage where there is physical abuse hurts everyone involved and is not love.
To allow your husband to beat you repeatedly is not loving him, or respecting him, or submitting to him, or honoring him. It is enabling him, and allowing him to stay in the prison of his addiction to violence. It is bad for him and so much worse for you. And if there are kids in the relationship, you must leave and seek safety.
Sorry – I’m ranting – back to the point.
I think it comes back to this. When we retaliate, we lose the ability to bring light into a situation. Jesus wants us to treat those around us the way He treated us.
And how was that.
Think of His last 24 hours before the cross.
He was slapped
He was spit upon
He was despised
They plucked out His beard
They pressed thorns into His head
They mocked Him
They whipped Him with a cat and nine
They forced Him to drag that massive cross through the streets
They pounded nails into His hands and feet
He could have asked the Father, and God would have scrubbed the mission and annihilated the nations of Israel and Rome in on fell swoop.
But like a lamb to the slaughter He was quite, and continued to turn the other cheek.
Why are you silent, O precious Lamb of God?
Why do you heal the wounds of your attackers?
Why do you pray for the forgiveness of those who tear you apart?
…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3 NASB)
Part of that joy was reconciliation with the very ones who beat Him.
Can you love like that? Only by the Spirit of God on the inside of you do you have any hope of loving like Jesus did.
O Spirit of the Living God, Fall fresh on me today and give me enough love to walk this way. I know apart from Your precious Spirit I can do nothing, but in You I can do all things. Breath on me this day.
Thanks for reading today.