Read Matthew 5:38-42
He was referring to the Law. Justice is pretty clear-cut. Lose an eye, take an eye. A tooth for a tooth. It’s easy to follow the logic of the law. I’m sure Jesus wondered why his people couldn’t follow it better. After all, it was easy to understand.
But Jesus wasn’t just talking to Jews on that mountain. He was talking to people who claimed they wanted to follow him, his teachings. And for them, he had a higher law–the law of love. Not mushy love, but agape love. The kind of love that didn’t ask anything in return.
So, instead of an eye for an eye, he says, go blind. Let them take them both. Wow. That’s radical.
Now, it’s important to note that he’s not talking about how we work out problems with our fellow believers. With them, we talk things out, take another friend with us, seek reconciliation if possible. Here on the mountain, he’s talking about when we’re confronted by a non-believer, an “evil” person who wants to bring us harm or take advantage of us. Love must be our guide.
So, when we’re hit, we turn our cheek; when we’re sued, we give them more; when we’re forced to walk a mile, we willingly go two. Why? Why should I just “give in” to my enemies?
Because the King of kings said so.
Well, yes, there’s that, but he was nice enough to explain himself in the verses that followed. In showing love to those who hate us or who want to hurt us, we set ourselves apart from the rest of the world. Even the most horrible person can love someone who loves him, but he will never love the person who hates him. In Jesus, we can. That’s the point.
When I love the one who hates me, they have to ask why. That’s my chance to say why; my chance to give witness to the One who enables me to love in a way no one else can. That gives God the glory. That’s the ultimate goal.
So, have you been smacked lately? Hurt at work, in the grocery line, while driving, or maybe in a Facebook post? What if you showed love instead of justice? I’m going to work on that this week by posting the word LOVE on my dashboard, computer at work, and maybe even my forehead…whatever it takes until it becomes a natural part of me to react in love not law for His glory.
What will it take for you?