**Please be sure to read all around this passage so that you are getting it in context; and as always, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the understanding that He would have you see. Passage: Matthew 5:39
This is another "you have heard it said" , "but I say to you" moment in Jesus ministry. He is once again bringing his audience back to the truth that was always there...it had just been lost under the covering of the traditions of the time and the traditions of men. Here is a little detail about the culture of the day...
The blow on the right cheek was the most grievous insult possible in the ancient world (apart from inflicting serious physical harm), and in many cultures was listed alongside the “eye for an eye” laws; both Jewish and Roman law permitted prosecution for this offense. A prophet might endure such ill treatment (1Ki_22:24; Isa_50:6). IVP Bible Background Commentary.
It could be that the cultural understanding was that this applied only to prophets, but Jesus is speaking to everyone when he makes this statement. We must all have a spirit of non-resistance.
How can we possibly live in such a way that we don't resist when evil is done to us?
First, understand that this is not resisting evil within yourself, we should always do that, but resisting (physically, verbally, spiritually, politically) when evil is done to you. Jesus is bringing us back to an understanding of ...
- Letting God be in control.
- Showing love in the face of evil will defeat it.
- Submission to God's will instead of your own will.
An example in the form of a story...
A family of Christians moves into a new home they just purchased in a small community. There is an old man who has been living by himself for a long time that has had many many disputes through the years with all previous owners of this home. His disputes have been over many things...property lines, noise levels, kids making a mess on "his" property, etc. He is the quintessential "cantankerous old fart".
As soon as the new family moves in he starts doing anything and everything he can to make their lives miserable. He dumps his garbage on their land. He cuss's loudly when they are in their yard having family time. He goes out of his way to make being his neighbor a living hell.
How should the Christian family react to this? What would you do?
They really have two options..
- They could do everything within their legal right to resist this man. They could call the police when he is harassing them. They could dump there garbage on his lawn or at least dump his garbage back on to his property. They could even contact a lawyer and attempt to fight this man in court to "force" him to comply.
- They could do it God's way...with love.
Now, lets suppose they do it the first way...what do you suppose will be the outcome? Will this man suddenly change and want to be a loving neighbor if they call the police? Will he feel bad for dumping his garbage on their property if they dump it back onto his? Or will his spirit of resistance toward them only increase?
Now, lets look at doing it God's way. Lets say that instead of dumping the garbage back onto his land, (what the cantankerous old man expects), they take the time to bag up the garbage and pay to have it hauled away and taken care of...no questions asked. Or what if, when he starts to cuss and make a scene while they are having family time in their yard they invite him over to join in the barbecue. What if they go to this old man every time he makes a problem and they offer him love, help, support, and caring. Would he expect this? NO! :)
This is how we, as Christians...as followers of Christ, can defeat evil with good. The above story is actually true...with a few facts changed because my memory is bad. This family ended up with a friendly and loving relationship with this cantankerous old man because they fought evil with good. He even ended up going to church with them and they quickly had a good friend instead of an enemy.
Think of other ways that this can be applied to your life. Do you have a spirit of resistance or a spirit of love, when evil is done to you?
Think of what the spirit of the world is. How many movies have you watched where the "hero" is out for vengeance?...someone has done him wrong and he is going to make them pay! Does God call us to vengeance?
What about forcing your spiritual or religious view through politics? Is this God's way?
Dear Father in Heaven,
Please give me a spirit of passiveness and love in the face of evil. Help me to have the strength to do it Your way Lord and not my way. Help me to forgive quickly and ask for forgiveness even faster. Your way defeats evil Lord, my way only bolsters it and makes it grow. Change my heart Lord...
Thank you for all that you do in my life. Thank you for all that you supply.
Please forgive me of my sins Lord and be with all of the prayer requests on my list. Lord, especially be with Ryan and his family as they deal with the loss of their father. Give them comfort, strength, and courage in a time of grief.
Thank you for your sacrifice and for being willing to die for even me. I love you Lord. Amen.