Matthew 5:38-48: You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 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. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 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. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (NIV)
According to Dictionary.com, retaliate means “to return like for like, especially evil for evil: to retaliate for an injury. To requite or make return for (a wrong or injury) with the like.”
That is precisely what the Christian is called NOT to do: retaliate by returning evil for evil. Christians are commanded to overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21 and passage above).
Jesus calls us to a higher standard – God’s standard – to love those who hate us and to pray for them so that they might be saved! Rather than justice from God, we are to pray and cry out for mercy from God for our persecutors! That is a hard thing to do and we cannot do it in our flesh but only in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not an option but a command. It is a command to love as Jesus loved.
During this Thanksgiving week, fulfill this command. Do it. While with your family, look for opportunities to return unkindness with kindness. Look for opportunities to return anger with meekness. Look for opportunities to turn grumbling into gratefulness.
Who knows? Maybe God will use your love for others to soften hearts to lead them to a knowledge of the truth.
-Mark (trusting God is reflected in our obedience to this command – do you trust God? do you demonstrate your ultimate trust in God by your actions in overcoming evil with good?)