Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘an eye for an eye’ and ‘a tooth for a tooth.’ But I am telling you not to resist those who wrong you. Instead, if someone slaps your right cheek, expose the other one to them as well.”
— Matthew 5:38-39 (USC)
Kingdom-building is what every Christian is interested in when they are Christian by nature and compelling and not simply by name.
To build Christ’s kingdom we are to be other-than the world. We are to be positioned to offer what the world cannot offer. When the world offers charmless obscenity, we offer what we can only get from God: wholesome purity. When the world offers hateful retribution, we offer what we can only get from God: merciful kindness.
This is the essence of what Jesus is getting at in this section of the Sermon on the Mount. There is no point to the execution of personal justice. We are better off seeing how the person who insults us reacts when we don’t react, or not respond in a way that the worldly person would respond.
The most important thing in this other person’s life is his or her salvation.
How can I get them closer to the point of accepting what Jesus has done for them?
If I behave in a way that they expect me to behave they are still blind to the Presence of the Kingdom. But, if they see me acting mercifully we have their attention for God’s purposes.
Is his or her salvation something we believe in or are even aware of?
Can we picture ourselves saying these things?
“My enemy, the person before me who has insulted me, let me be your friend; not because I’m afraid of you – for that’s not the point – but because God loves you I must also love you.”
“Even though I hate you for what you did, God insists that I love you, and, because I trust God, I will love you however I’m able.”
God does something mysterious in us when we act on his compulsion to love our enemies. As we hear ourselves utter words otherwise unpalatable we experience the moment’s ease. Doing what we thought would be so hard becomes something we do actually without much thought.
Isn’t it great when God proves us wrong!
God’s kingdom power is with those who turn insults and offenses into opportunities to serve and bless.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. What has God done for you that you feel God wouldn’t be prepared to do for another? Or, what has God done for someone else he wouldn’t do for you?
2. What are some of the creative ways we can respond to an insult received by returning serve with a compliment?
3. How can we serve the person with an ugly attitude or character?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr. Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.