READ: Matthew 5:38-42
- Lex Talionis: the law of retaliation. Some have read it as permission granting or even a response mandate. But that’s not how God intended it. He intended it as a limitation. Think, “No more than…an eye… .” The human spirit is such that we believe we have to respond bigger and harsher to make sure the other person knows they should stop whatever it is they are doing. Or it will at least make them think twice about doing something again.
- Jesus enters the scene and presents a much more passive approach to situations where there might be a temptation to retaliate. In fact, He doesn’t even suggest that you make your retaliation equal or less than what the other person did. He suggests no retaliation at all. He even encourages believers to invite further response instead of reacting to their situations. He recommends turning one’s cheek, giving more and traveling further.
- In a world of road rage, school shootings and employee rampages, Jesus’ words are inviting. Not that anyone would ever condone injustice, bullying, or unfair treatment, but we must find better ways to respond than what we see in our current culture. The thought that your slighting of me should incite me to shoot you must become unthinkable. Remembering Jesus’ prayer—“God, treat me as I treat others,” will force us to rethink how we respond to people who “offend” us.
- What kinds of circumstances most incite you to want to retaliate?
- Describe the worst offense you’ve committed and how the other person responded.
- Why do you think it’s so hard for us to not retaliate?
PRAY: Ask God to give you the temperament to think before you react. Pray that you can “kill with kindness” instead of seeking revenge. Pray that Christians can be known for their kind responses.