From the Pastor’s Pen: “Blessed...” (Matthew 5:38-42)
“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.” (Matt. 5:38-42)
Growing up on Tom and Jerry, I can remember the bulldog who would often say, “You wait ‘til I see him! He’ll get what’s coming to him!” Each and every time, his reaction only exacerbated an already exasperating situation. We laugh and giggle until someone wrongs us. Then we say, “You wait ‘til I see him! He’ll get what’s coming to him!” Our lives can become quite cartoonish, can’t they?
Christ provides the godly man with another route - overcome evil with good. Wait, Zach - are you saying that there can be no justice? That we should simply let evil reign without borders and without boundaries? By no means! Jesus deals particularly with persons - persons who hurt you, persons who take from you, persons who ask too much of you, persons who pilfer you. But there is a big difference between a person and an office. A person who seeks to right wrongs on their own accord is called a vigilante; an office that seeks to right wrongs are simply doing their jobs. Jesus had all the ability in the world to play the vigilante, but Peter reminds us, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:23) Even when a worldly government failed to exact justice, Paul states, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” (Rom. 12:19)
In a day and age when the evil of this world verges on the level of cartoonish, we are all tempted to make sure evil “gets what’s coming to him!” For the moments when we are white knuckled and spitting mad, let us be mindful of the Christ who has born much evil by us, who died by the hands of evil menfor us, and who promises to remove evil from us. Behind every turned cheek lies the tender mercies and precious promises of Jesus Christ.