THOUGHTS FROM MATTHEW

February 7

Text: Matthew 5:38, 39

"You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.'  But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. (NASB)

This paragraph is difficult.  Living in a culture that stresses individual rights and justice makes it even more difficult.  We are told when justice prevails it produces ďclosureĒ for people who suffer because of the consequences produced by injustice.  We commonly expect the existence of a just society.

Context is critical.  Jesus spoke to people in a religious nation founded on Godís values.  Read Deuteronomy 15 for insights.  Israelís objectives and responsibilities certainly differed from ours.  A godly people were to have godly objectives.  Those objectives were not based on self-centered concerns that destroyed or neglected a fellow Israelite.  The objective was NOT to destroy evil people!

Rather than seeking justice (an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth), they would respond to injustice with kindness and consideration.  That idea was no more popular then than it is today!  Responding to injustice with kindness has never been popular in any society or nation!  Innocent people always want guilty people to endure the consequences of their unjust plans and acts.

Obvious lesson one: Being righteous requires courage.  Lesson two: The righteous truly trust that more than the physical exists.  Lesson three: living by faith in God is more important than living for physical benefit.   Lesson five: The behavior of the righteous is determined by Godís character.  Lesson six: The righteous trust that justice ultimately is in Godís hands.

Suggestion for reflection: Consider the connection between this section (5:38-42) and being a peacemaker (5:9).  [Read Romans 12:17-21.]

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