“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth [punishment that fits the offense].’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person [who insults you or violates your rights]; but whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other toward him also [simply ignore insignificant insults or trivial losses and do not bother to retaliate—maintain your dignity, your self-respect, your poise]. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also [for the Lord repays the offender]. And whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. ~Matthew 5:38-42 (AMP)
A few weeks ago, my husband came to me and in passing stated that if we lived out the Beatitudes our lives would look radically different. I was a little annoyed and said, “I thought I did! What part of the beatitudes am I not living out?” Then I began to think about and camp around Matthew 5:38-42.
In missions and ministry, when we work with people who have broken lives and poverty, there is often a gross entitlement we come up against or an “I deserve” mentality. When I am faced with this attitude the last thing I want to do is give my shirt too (Matthew 5:40). I do not enjoy giving when it is required or demanded, obviously, because this is not “giving” at all.
Unfortunately, there are also evil people that will violate our rights and demand things of us as well. I have been facing a situation of gross injustice and it feels evil. I have been personally wrestling with the questions of how to handle it like Jesus would. I know, I’m in the right and could demand certain things, but I don’t think that is what Matthew 5 is inviting me into. And then I stumbled upon this reminder from Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven”.
In this circumstance in my life, I have been praying for the person’s salvation. When we start to really pray for someone, it knits our hearts to them in love. I felt compelled to begin to pray for them a bit more genuinely. And isn’t it beautiful that when we pray for an evil person, God begins to move in our hearts and living out Matthew 5:38-42 becomes easier and easier. According to Matthew 5:39 we are to release radical giving, forgiveness, and trust in the bigness of God to repay and vindicate. I have been reading a book from Voice of the Martyrs. I’m sure you can imagine the gross wickedness and evil that current day martyrs have undergone in the face of anti-God cultures. I can imagine many of you who are on the frontlines of missions, have faced wickedness and had to decide what love looks like that does not enable, but still goes low and trusts in God.
The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 ends with an exhortation, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Yes, it does look like perfection to not resist an evil person, turn the other cheek, not turn away from the one who wants to borrow, give to the one who sues you, etc. But this is the beauty of the new covenant and God’s amazing power that resides inside of us through the Holy Spirit, to do what we cannot do in and of ourselves. Today, I invite you to take a fresh look at the Beatitudes with me and decide…are we living it? And if not, let’s receive the power of the Holy Spirit to do so!
Written by: Nita Weldon
Published on 2/2/18