READ: Matthew 5:38-42
- Once again Jesus confronts the normal interpretation and application of the law. It was true that God had given illustrations of how to respond to conflicts, accidents and crimes. He had established not only just responses, but done so in a way that limited those responses. It could be legitimate to take an eye for eye, but it was also all that could be exacted. The point was to suspend escalation.
- Essentially, what Jesus does is ask believers to break the natural chains of reaction. It’s completely normal to expect some just response to conflicts in life. There needs to be something that governs justice. However, Jesus again internalizes and intensifies the response of Christians to their circumstances. He suggests that instead of exercising our right to (even) just respond that we not respond at all.
- There is to be no resistance, even to the evil ones who impose upon us. Some have taken this to the extreme of complete pacifism. They interpret it to mean that we would not even defend ourselves. The illustrations Jesus uses don’t seem to imply that we can’t protect ourselves or our loved ones. But it clearly states that we are to shock the world in the way we respond. In addition to these specific illustrations, we also learn how to move beyond the specifics of a law/principle and find new applications.
- What is your immediate (gut) response to Jesus’ instructions?
- In what situations have you actually done some of these things?
- How can you see yourself applying these principles in the future?
PRAY: Ask God to help you wrestle with these challenges. Pray that you can be open to new ways of responding to difficult circumstances. Commit to responding to difficult situations with grace and kindness.