Tuesday, August 16, 2022
Joe Beckler - Journey Church Host Team Volunteer
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Think of someone whom you really want to give what’s coming to them – retribution, payback, reckoning, or reprisal. They’ve hurt you, and it feels deceptively right to want them to feel pain for ways they created harm.
The problem is, when we carry vengeful anger, it burns through our soul, leaving us bitter and beholden to the oppressor. Jesus wants us to live beyond that kind of pain, and instead, move toward a place of freedom.
Matthew 5:38-42 could be one of the hardest teachings out there, but it is a life-giving challenge. Jesus, instead of demanding equitable retribution, which was endorsed in the Old Testament (see Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21), calls for his followers to go the extra mile with those who mean harm. It’s a profound response that undermines the intent of the oppressor.
Think about this from the historical perspective, during the time of Jesus. A Roman soldier could force someone, on the spot, to drop whatever they were doing and carry his gear. A literal forced march! No one had rights, and this was unbearably oppressive. They were victimized and seething with hatred towards their oppressors. People wanted to grab a sword and take revenge. Hatred on hatred.
Jesus understood the cycle of hatred. It is always a downward spiral of destruction. For centuries, people have held grudges that regularly mature into violence and injustice, over and over. The “evildoer” as Jesus described, always wants to convey a message to the victim – “I have power over you, to harm, and to control.”
Jesus invited his followers to break the cycle of hatred and revenge by demonstrating an opposite effect. Love the one who intends harm. Surprise them with a reaction that says, “I am not participating in a cycle of anger and hatred. I am going to live with power, freedom, and love.”
Imagine the shock when a Jesus-follower finishes the required mile and says, “Want me to go another mile?” Or the one who wants to take away another’s possessions, “You want my shirt? How about my jacket, too?” Or the person who wants you to fight back, and you simply choose not to fight. This mindset is radical, and it immediately undermines the one who intends harm.
One important qualifier. If you are living in a situation where you are experiencing abuse, it doesn’t mean you stay in the abusive situation. Break the cycle and remove yourself. Seek help because abuse is never expectable. Our church has resources ready to help as you remove yourself from a cycle of abuse and harm, whatever it may be.
Jesus shows us in Matthew 4:38-42, as well as in his life, that there is power in breaking the cycle of revenge and retribution. His teaching leads to life-giving freedom.
“Jesus. Where in my life, and with whom, do I need to go the extra mile, breaking the cycle of hatred and revenge? Show me, and please give me the strength to end the cycle of hatred and revenge. Amen.”
Daily Prayer Initiatives
- Jesus to change more lives as we double the square footage of our Castle Pines location.
- Momentum as we launch our Highlands Ranch location.
- Someone you can invite to Journey on Friend Day (Sunday, September 11)
- One bold prayer you sense God is personally inviting you to pray during the 21 Days.
Get to a place where you can focus and read the daily Scripture passage several times. From the passage of Scripture you read, highlight one or two verses that stick out. Write them down, and even consider rewriting the verse(s) in your own words.
Make some basic observations about the scripture you just read by asking these questions:
- Why was this written?
- To whom was it originally written?
- What is the author trying to communicate?
- What does the Scripture passage teach me about God and humanity?
After taking some time explaining the highlighted scriptures, begin to think about how they apply to your life. Ask yourself these questions and spend some time writing down your thoughts:
- What do these verses mean today?
- What does this verse(s) mean for my life?
- How does this verse challenge my thinking and actions?
- What changes do I need to make in my life as a result of this passage of Scripture?
Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through the Bible verses. You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you learned. You may respond by writing out a prayer to God. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.