From: Su Min
My dearest beloved agapetos,
today we turn to Matt 5:38-42 and hear Jesus teach us as we read the passage. Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said, 'eye for eye and tooth for tooth'." Jesus quotes the scriptures (Exodus 21:24.) This was the law, the rigid law, the harsh law, the Old Testament law, the law as the Pharisees and the Sadducees knew it. A pound of flesh to be ripped out from the chest. But even in laying down the law, allowing provision for punishment to fit the crime, the Old Testament teaches against seeking revenge (Lev 19:18).
Jesus brings love into the equation "Do not resist an evil person". If an evil person has done something to you, Jesus says do not resist. Indeed, not only do not resist, Jesus teaches, but go on to help the evil person that seeks to do you evil: turn the other cheek, let him have a cloak as well as tunic, go the extra mile, give him what he needs, return good for evil. This is the standard required by Jesus for the salt of the earth, the children of light..
And if it is a brother or sister, not an evil person, that has done some harm to you, what more the injunction not to resist, to extend yourself to tend to their needs, to look beyond your hurts and see their needs.
The Word of God says:
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your own people, but love your neighbour as yourself (Lev 19:18)."You touch my back, I smash your teeth". Revenge. A very basic emotion. You hit me, I hit you. But a wrong emotion. An unrighteous emotion. An emotion of the children of darkness, not the children of light. What should our response be then? We are to learn to forgive and accept others as they are. The provision is that those impacting upon us are not psychologically sick. If so they need professional therapy. But in any case, Jesus teaches us do not repay evil for evil. Do not retaliate. Do not seek revenge.
It is mine to avenge; I will repay (Deut 32:35).
Do not say," I will pay you back for this wrong". Wait for the Lord and he will deliver you (Proverbs 20:22).
Do not say, "I'll do to him as he has done to me; I'll pay that man back for what he did" (Proverbs 24:29).
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the sight of everybody (Romans 12:17).
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written "it is mine to avenge; I will repay" says the Lord (Romans 12:19).
Do not repay evil for evil, or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).
The sentiment seems to go against the grain. It is our basic instinct to lash out, to seek revenge. We see the Chinese period movie of the fallen family around the young hero who cries out for revenge. The hero's whole life becomes a pursuit of revenge. But God requires of us a different standard. We need to forgive as we have been forgiven. We need to throw away the spirit of retaliation. We need a change of heart.
How do we do a right about turn? Much of the answer, I believe, lies in God's Word. I believe that as we seek to grow in spiritual stature, as we daily read God's word and meditate upon the text, God enables us to live the life he would want us to live. Read the several passages outlined today. Allow the Holy Spirit to minister to you. There may be a thunder and lightning change. More likely the change is very subtle. Slowly but surely, you will be more ready to repay good for evil. Slowly but surely you will be moulded into God's likeness. (When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Genesis 5:1)
Let us pray;
Heavenly Father, thank you for your word today.
Abba Father, you know how we love to seek revenge.
Thank you for sending Jesus to teach us how to repay good for evil.
Indeed Jesus repaid the evil that men did with His life.
As your children, Father, give us the desire to walk in His footsteps.
Teach us Father, the self sacrificing love that marks the children of the Kingdom.
We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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