**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 5:40
40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. (NLT)
Here we have the same concept as in the prior verses but now Jesus is taking it to a different playing field. He's trying to show us that this idea of passiveness or nonresistance works in all aspects of life. Each time he is directly addressing instances that were real to the people he spoke with. Also note that he is not giving them a new concept but bringing them back to a truth that was always there. (Exo 22:26-27)
26 If you take your neighbor’s cloak as security for a loan, you must return it before sunset. 27 This coat may be the only blanket your neighbor has. How can a person sleep without it? If you do not return it and your neighbor cries out to me for help, then I will hear, for I am merciful. (NLT)
Now let's set the scene culturally...
The poorest people of the Empire (e.g., most peasants in Egypt) had only an inner and outer garment, and the theft of a cloak would lead to legal recourse. Although conditions in first-century Palestine were not quite that bad, this verse could indicate divestiture of all one’s possessions, even (*hyperbolically) one’s clothes, to avoid a legal dispute affecting only oneself. Jesus gives this advice in spite of the fact that, under Jewish law, a legal case to regain one’s cloak would have been foolproof: a creditor could not take a poor person’s outer cloak, which might serve as one’s only blanket at night as well as a coat (Exo_22:26-27). IVP Bible Background Commentary
Having ones outer garment taken would to some mean having everything they owned taken. Surely Jesus would tell them that in THIS case it is okay to fight back and claim what is rightfully theirs; but no, he once again asks them/us to fight evil with good. Imagine how that court battle would go if you followed this principle...
Judge: "This is the case of Joe, the plaintiff, versus Fred, the defendant. Joe is claiming that Fred has stolen the only jacket he had to keep him warm."
Judge: "Fred, how do you plead!"
Fred: "Not guilty your honor!"
Judge: "Joe, what proof do you have that this fine jacket that Fred is wearing belongs to you?"
Joe: "Well sir, I am not wearing a jacket for one. Secondly, did you notice how the sleeves don't quite fit Fred's arms?"
Fred: "That proves nothing! I have simply grown since I first purchased this jacket"
Judge: "Order in the court. Fred, do not speak out of turn!"
Fred: "Sorry your honor."
Judge: "Proceed with your testimony Joe."
Joe: "My final offer of proof sir, is this...I can prove the jacket is mine because it has my name sown into the lining."
Fred: "What! That can't be possible...[stuttering]..this is my jacket!" I swear it belongs to me!"
Judge: "Fred, please remove the jacket and bring it to me."
Fred: "But your honor, this is my jacket. I don't want to take it off."
Judge: "Fred, remove the jacket and bring it to me now or risk being in contempt of court!"
Fred: "Okay, here you go..."
Judge: "I see here that Joe is right, his initials are sewn into the lining of this jacket. I will now render my verdict and penalty. Joe, I find that this jacket is yours and that Fred should not only give it back to you but should pay you $500 dollars for pain and suffering as well as spend 2 nights in jail for theft."
Fred: [desperately] "Your honor, please no! I can't go to jail! I have children. Have mercy!"
Judge: "You are guilty of theft, this is what you deserve."
Joe: "Sir, if I may say something please..."
Judge: "Go ahead."
Joe: "I wish to drop all charges against Fred."
Judge: [confounded] "Whuut?"
Joe: "I would also like to let him have the coat and I would like to take him to a tailor so that it can be fitted for him more comfortably. I don't want him to go to jail...I know that he has children to take care of sir. I would also like to give him $500 dollars to help him to care for his family."
Fred: [crying] "How can this be...I stole from you...I don't deserve this kindness."
Joe: [with tears in his own eyes] "The One who allowed me to have that coat has asked me to always be willing to give mercy and kindness to everyone, ESPECIALLY those that do bad to me. I would like to tell you more about the One who gave me that coat and who taught me mercy...would you like to hear more?"
Fred: "Yes, I sure would! Thank you Joe, I will never forget this."
Judge: "Case dismissed!"
Again, I ask, what would the outcome have been if we did it our way instead of God's way?
Lord, when I see Your Grace and mercy and love I am overwhelmed by it. It is so amazing! Now I ask for a power greater than myself to give me the ability to have that kind of grace and mercy for those that do wrong to me. Change my heart Lord as only you can....
Lord, I ask for your forgiveness and I accept it based on Your promise to forgive. Thank you for showing me the mercy that I do not deserve. Thank you for supplying me with a "coat" and everything else that I have. You're an awesome God!
Please be with all of the prayer requests on the prayer list. Keep my family safe and bring them all closer to You. Thank you for your sacrifice. Amen.