Monday, November 29, 2021
Love Your Enemies
38-42 “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for a tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? So here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
-Matthew 5:38-42 The Message
Verse 38: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’
Verse 38 study: With everything else God does, he has a purpose behind this law; it’s an expression of mercy. The law was given to judges and said, “in effect,” Make the punishment fit the crime. This is not a guide to personal revenge (Exodus 21:23-25; Leviticus 24:19-20; Deuteronomy 19:21). The laws were given to limit vengeance and help the court distribute too strict or too lenient punishment. Unfortunately, some people still use this phrase to justify their vendettas against others. They also try to excuse their acts of revenge by saying, “I was doing to him what he done to me.”
Verse 39: But I say to you, do not show opposition against an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other toward him also.
Verse 40: If anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him also have your cloak.
Verse 41: Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
Verse 42: Give to him who asks of you and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
Verses 38-42 studies: Betrayal is real, and when we are betrayed, the first thing we think is, we must get even. Jesus said, “we should do good to those who wronged us.” Our desire is not to keep score but to love and forgive. It is not natural; it is supernatural. Only God can give us the strength to love like he does. So instead of planning revenge, pray for those who hurt you.
Verses 39-44 studies: In those days, these statements were offensive to the Jews. Any Messiah who would turn the other cheek was not a military leader; they wanted to revolt against Rome. Since they were under Roman oppression, they wanted revenge against their enemies, who they hated. Jesus did suggest a new radical response to injustice. Instead of demanding rights, give them up freely. According to Jesus, it is more important to give justice and mercy than to receive it.
Father, I struggle loving enemies. I’m sure a lot of us do. I pray that this lesson will give us the courage to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and let him give us the strength to love our enemies. In Jesus’ name. Amen.