Our scripture this morning is Matthew 5:38-42.
You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
Early Jewish law was intended to prevent violence and mayhem by offering the same punishment as the offense. It was not a call to personal vengeance but a guide for the judges to determine an appropriate sentence. While it may have been marginally effective, it wasn’t a complete deterrent. Jesus gives us a new teaching, one that is the complete opposite.
Jesus says “do not resist an evil person” (v. 39), which most of us find extremely difficult to accomplish. He teaches that anger at an offense should not lead us to hate or violence. However, I don’t believe He said we can’t defend the things that are most important to us – read John 2:13-22. We are created as thinking beings, not reacting out of animal instinct but evaluating situations before responding.
Jesus calls us to love one another first and foremost. The last line of this passage tells us to “give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow” (v. 42). This is the life to which Christ calls us, caring for each other as He cares for us.
Loving Lord, we want to be more like You in our thoughts and actions. Help us to see Your image in all our brothers and sisters and share the joy we have found in You. Amen.