MATTHEW 5:38–45 -“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 the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 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. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
THEME OF THE DAY. RESPONDING TO MISTREATMENT. If anyone ever tells you, “The world would be so much better if we followed God’s Ten Commandments” or if a person says, “If all of us strived to live out Jesus’ instructions in the Sermon on the Mount, everything would be fine”, respond in three ways. First, agree with them because they are right. If we obeyed perfectly God’s commandments both in the Decalogue (moral law of God) and the Sermon on the Mount, the world would be “heaven on earth”. And that leads to the second response to such people. It isn’t happening in this life. Complete obedience to God’s law and life of love found in the Sermon on the Mount is for where heaven really is located and that isn’t in this world. The perfect is coming. It has not arrived. This leads us to today’s scripture and our responses.
Should there ever be doubt as to human inability to obey the law of God and the Sermon on the Mount, read today’s scripture. Those doubts will vanish quickly. And what is so relevant and necessary for us to grasp, then believe, in Jesus’ instructions is how to respond when mistreated, taken for granted, or hurt. Now Jesus is not advocating physical abuse so don’t go there. But what He is doing is telling us the proper response that honors Him when treated poorly.
Here is a stark reality we each know by painful personal experience or will know if we are going to be Christians living out the life God would have us in relationships with other Christians – Sooner or later in our walks with the Lord, we are going to be disappointed by fellow Christians, sinned against by fellow Christians, hurt by other Christians, and even betrayed by other Christians. And before we allow such things to make us bitter, rob our joy in the Lord, polarize relationships, and suffer severe damage in our own walks with the Lord, pause and remember two things; Oh, but for the grace of God go we—we may do the same things to other believers. Then, look how Jesus responds to us when we do them to Him. He meets us with a love enduring all things, forgiving all things and restoring all things (1 Corinthians 13). Yes, these things are hard, but with the proper responses, God will use them to teach us so much about sin, forgiveness, human nature, and our constant need of grace. In the process of being mistreated responding as Jesus instructs us in today’s scripture, we will grow into more of the likeness of Christ.
Mistreatment. It happened to our Lord. It will happen to us. How we respond determines if we grow in grace or groan in self-pity.
PRAYER: “Father, thank You for the wonderful gift of Your Son, not only for eternal life, but the Presence of Him in this life.”
QUOTE: “You may feel alone in trying times in life but you will never be alone in trying times in life – the Lord is near.”