READ: Matthew 5:38-42
- The Old Testament laws Jesus references are primarily directed at “crime” or “accident” kinds of situations. Yet Jesus moved His listeners into the everyday realms of life. Each of the four illustrations are more about daily life in relationship to those in power than it is about what might happen in the ordinary course of events. It has to do with being confronted by someone and being slapped, being sued by someone for your tunic. The illustration speaks to being forced to carry a soldier’s pack or being asked by a beggar for money or supply.
- In each case, Jesus gives a counter-cultural response that will be most appropriate for a believer. He takes a law of retaliation and turns it into a means of demonstrating generous kindness and unqualified non-resistance. In other words, Jesus asks us to reconsider how all of life is lived so that we create a different culture, one that is not constantly escalating the fight by demanding personal rights.
- In every situation Jesus mentioned, your rights are at stake. Normally, no one has the right to slap you, take your tunic, force you to carry their load, or take your possessions. Those are all personal affronts, even in the case of a Roman soldier whose position gave him legal status to do what he was doing. However, instead of begrudgingly going the minimum, Jesus says “go the extra mile.” We might suggest, “kill ‘em with kindness.”
- If you were to rewrite these, how would you word them?
- If you were to add other illustrations, what would you add?
- How would you finish this sentence, “If a driver insists on taking your parking place, instead of honking, …”?
PRAY: Commit to trying to live this gentler, kinder life. Pray for a heart that can move past personal rights. Ask God to help you become more generous—not just with money.