“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.” Matthew 5:38-42 (NLT)
What would this world look like if people who were mistreated didn’t personally retaliate but loved instead? It would look very different, and the news would probably have trouble finding stories to report on. What about your world? What would it look like, if you didn’t retaliate with revenge, but love? What if, when someone else called you a name, you kept silent. What if, when someone took advantage of your friendship, instead of dropping them, you remained a friend instead? It’s not easy, but then again, doing what is right is never easy. The reality is, it is impossible.
We may have been successful at retaliating with love, on occasion, but in order to make it a quality of our lives and a defining characteristic of who we are, we need Jesus to change our hearts. We need to ask the One (Jesus) who was able to cry out, “Father forgive them..." while his hands and feet were being nailed to a cross, to make our hearts like His. He did not personally retaliate, but when He was cursed, He blessed. When religious leaders accused Him, He remained silent, and when He was denied by one of His closest disciples (Peter), He forgave. Jesus lived a life of Retaliating with Love. And because He did it through the power of the Holy Spirit living in Him, we can do the same, because the same Holy Spirit lives in all of Jesus’ followers.
Ask Jesus to grow your heart so that you can retaliate with love. Look for opportunities today, because I’m sure the opportunities will present themselves. Will you be ready?