I want to take a moment and shift gears, so to speak, and talk about something that I believe is important to remember in our walk with Christ; that is, how we respond to a world that seemingly is getting more evil in its ways. One need only to look briefly at the political arena to witness the slanderous words that get heaved in both directions. Or we could look at the entertainment industry that seemingly has a vendetta towards the “Christian” community. The words of Jesus ring loud and clear, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake” (Matthew 5:11). Sometimes, it is so easy to get caught up in the moment and fall into the trap of this dark world of ours. So, what can we learn from Jesus that can help equip us?
You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I tell you not to resist an evil person.
Jesus is reflecting back on the old law and how they approached wrong-doing under it. The whole idea seems to be that of proportional punishment. Where this idea is found in Exodus 21:22-25, it talks of how one should react if a pregnant woman is hurt during a fight between men and her baby is prematurely delivered and is harmed, possibly even unto death. This same proportional punishment is seen again in Leviticus 24:19-22 and Deuteronomy 19:21. Remember, this letter is being written to Jews who would understand what is being said. Okay, so how were they (and how are we) to deal with evil people?
And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.
Although in the lesson today, I will more than likely touch on each of the things mentioned by Jesus, but this one was brought to my attention this past week. It is said that a Roman soldier had the right to demand someone to carry his luggage and they would be required to do so by Roman law. The relationship between the Jews and Romans was filled with resentment and hatred. Jesus says that instead of resisting, actually go beyond the law’s requirements. This makes me think of Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Herein seems to be the reason behind such a response; that is, when we respond with intentional kindness, it can help us from becoming overcome by evil (negatively influenced by it) and instead, possibly influence the one who was evil to repent. That is a good enough reason of why not to respond in kind. So how do you respond to evil?