In our families, in our marriages, in our careers and in the workplace, it has happened to us. We have all been mistreated and felt the emotions that come with the feelings of being mistreated. How do we rid ourselves of these emotions? Some of us hang out with friends to get it all out. In our modern society, some explode their emotions all over social media. Some hold it in. We hold the emotional strain due to mistreatments and abuse we have endured for days, weeks, and sometimes decades.
Even in our redeemed state, our flesh desires revenge. We want payback. We have an “eye for an eye” mentality towards the one who has hurt us. But the more we fellowship with Christ and get His Word into us, the more contrary it commands us to be toward what our flesh desires. Could you imagine that God may want to move our flesh from revenge and move us to a place of blessing – blessing our enemy?
I remembered when someone had done me wrong when I was in high school. I would lie in bed thinking of ways to hurt them: how in the middle of the night I could damage their property in return for the hurt they had caused me. Many think of various ways to pay people back for their mistreatment – defiling projects, destroying reputations, and derailing dreams. But God does not ask us to refrain from returning evil for evil when mistreated without offering us a significant blessing in return. Our Father is a huge Giver, and He wants to bless us for bearing mistreatment and suffering on His behalf.
For thousands of years, man was able to return whatever necessary evil back to the person who had caused pain. That was until Jesus stood up and said the following:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:38-48 New International Version
This went against man’s ways. This went against cultural, oral traditions, and current day scriptural norms of the day. Most importantly, it went against the path that our flesh takes when someone hurts us. It may go against what our parents have taught us in regards to the playgrounds of life: if someone hits you, hit them back. God was instituting His economy and His order for man.
In this day and time, Roman soldiers and Roman countrymen could come to a Jew and demand whatever they wished. Jews despised the Romans for their abuse and unfair treatment. If a soldier wanted you to assist him by helping him carry a load, you carried it. Jesus said (paraphrasing), “Watch your attitude. If one of those guys asks you go to a mile. Go the extra mile and go two.”
Even today, this applies to us. Jesus says to not resist – withstand, to strive against, or oppose – the evil person. In fact, Jesus seems to be saying here to lean into the evil person. Are we to lean into the opposition as people lean into the wind of a hurricane or storm?
To be continued . . .
Here are other posts which are great companions to this post: