You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Lex Talionis. The Law of Retaliation. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. You hurt me; I will hurt you back.
That was the culture of the world in which Jesus lived. The Law of Retaliation was given because revenge was rampant. The law was not given as a remedy but for restraint, not a cure but for control. Then Jesus came and wiped the law off the books.
Jesus was not instructing us to refuse to stand for our rights or become a human punching bag. The teaching is for believers to refrain from selfish retaliation and let God take care of the situation. Be willing to lay down your rights in order for others to see him work through you. Don’t respond in a way that makes you look smaller than the one who started the exchange. God has your back. Let him cover for you.
- Is there a person you would like to get back at for doing something to you?
- Give that person to God. Praise him for the release from retaliation.
Father, in my flesh I want to strike back. Help me respond as Jesus would. Help me demonstrate your power at work in my heart. Help me honor you in all my actions. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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