Jesus said, “And as for the person who wants to take you to court to obtain your shirt, let them have your cloak as well.”
— Matthew 5:40 (USC)
Christian life is lived dead to our own needs so others may live having their needs met. Such a life is about trusting God wholeheartedly for the fulfilment of our needs. And God never, in the experience of mature Christians, lets us down, though we will well be disappointed a great number of times.
Well, how do we apply our Christian certitude when we have someone against us? Whether they are right or wrong, we give them more than they would ever expect to get.
It’s a hard thing to stomach – but that’s the whistle charge.
Our divine mandate has been set. We win them over before we even arrive in court.
What is an example of not just giving them our shirt, but our cloak as well?
By giving our jacket away, and not just our under garment, we are saying we are willing to face the elements before we betray God’s justice – that we may be found even minutely wrong. We never see ourselves as being beyond reproach, and, in that way, we often become beyond reproach. The subtle difference is we are so careful not to betray justice we hardly ever do.
Our objective is to respect justice and wilt to righteous at every turn, and only in humility can we do that.
By walking around bare-chested but free of conscience for the theft of anything, we gain something the world could never give us; the peace of the ancients who strode the Ancient Path of obedience.
Only God can give us the peace that surpasses understanding and that defies all knowledge.
Even as the person walks away, our shirt on their back and our jacket over their shoulder, we are pleased that we rose to a heavenly standard for justice. And, if even the thought crosses our mind of injustice, we are quickly admonished by the encouragement of the Lord – “They need these things more than you do, for I supply you out of My Abundance, and besides, My Kingdom is advanced for what you have done... well done, good and faithful servant!”
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. Consider the cost of climbing resentment for the petty matters of conflict. Has life become so banal?
2. What blessings might be showered on the selfish person who then knows not what to do? Could they possibly respond in curiosity in their incredulity?
3. When we are willing to be found out for being wrong we are found having an unusual integrity. How could this possibly be an admirable attribute of 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.