My boys are unintentionally good at reminding me of how we as humans naturally like to base our own actions off the actions of others.
If I had a dollar for every time one of them tried to justify their wrong actions by pointing to the wrong actions of his brother, I wouldn’t be rich, but I would sure have a good chunk of extra spending money each month.
Last week, Jesus taught that those who follow Him are meant to be influencers for the glory of God and the good of others. This week, He begins to give practical ways to live that out. What He calls us into may be simple, but it is NOT easy.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” – MATTHEW 5:38-42
Jesus was quite familiar with our human tendency to do unto others what they do unto us, especially when their actions are offensive or disrespectful. He invites His followers into a different way of interacting with others; a radical way that He modeled throughout His life. One not based on the actions of others, but on a persistent principle He shows in His actions toward you and me: BE GENEROUS.
Be generous toward others, no matter how they act toward you. Don’t act “in kind”, but act in kindness. If someone offends you, be generous. If someone is rude to you, be generous. If someone inconveniences you, be generous. If someone is only out for their own good, be generous.
It sounds crazy. We want to declare, “Jesus, that will never work!” But if Jesus is who He says He is, maybe we should listen to Him.
Maybe we shouldn’t just listen to Him, but maybe we should even seek to imitate Him. Who knows what amazing and unexpected things He might do in our life and the lives of others.
As you consider this passage this week, think through these questions:
Why do we tend to like retaliation? What is the problem with retaliation?
What fears arise in you when you hear what Jesus calls you to do in this passage?
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