Read thru the New Testament 2018
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids
Bible Reading: Matthew 5:27-48
There was a law in the days of Jesus called, “lex talionis”…the law of retaliation. Basically, it taught that whatever someone did to you, you had the right to do back to them to the same degree or extent to which they had done it to you…but no more. Originally, the intent had been to keep people from reacting excessively when someone did something to them. However, people had begun to interpret it to mean that not only did they have the right to hurt them in the same way that they had been hurt…it was almost an expectation that they do so. “You punched me in the eye. Well, get ready, because if I don’t punch you in the eye, people will think that I’m a wimp. I’ve got to do it. Anyway, it’s the law.”
Jesus taught a different way to react. Take control of the situation. Calm things down. Take a deep breath and count to ten. Don’t allow your emotions to dictate how you respond. Instead, try to diffuse the situation by allowing the person some degree of satisfaction with what they had already done. Don’t react hastily, emotionally…and do something that will only cause actions to continue to escalate.
Hopefully, your response will have as much of an affect on the other person as their original action could have had on you. They will see that you have no intention of retaliating…and understand that to be a sign of inner strength, of self-control. And, this will give their emotions just enough breathing room…that they can relax. Then you may have the opportunity to turn this wicked incident into a witnessing incident. You can tell them about God’s love and how He has transformed your life and that He desires to do the same for them.
Now, it is important for us to understand that Jesus is not telling us to be the proverbial punching bag. Just letting people to continue to mistreat us, or to abuse us. No. That is not allowed. Notice two things. First, He only tells us to allow the situation to continue one more step…not time, and time, again. I remember my Pastor from High School saying, “I’ve only got two cheeks!” And second, none of these three instances are life-threatening. That is not what He is talking about, here. Not even the slap to the face. Obviously, no one would like to be punched in the face. But most theologians don’t see this as a clenched fist punch. Instead, this was actually a slap that signified something of a challenge. It was an insult…not a death threat. In a situation where there is the potential for abuse, or physical harm, or a threat to life, the Christian has the right to defend himself. That is one of the reasons why God established government…to provide protection for its citizens. The Christian has the right to seek that protection and to protect himself.