3. Jesus Uses Four Commands to Illustrate This Principle
1. Never return insult for insult (Matthew 5:39).
According to the rabbis in Jesus’ day, hitting someone across the face with the back of the hand was twice as insulting as hitting with an open hand. It was a double insult to receive a flick of the hand on the cheek, one of the most demeaning and contemptuous of acts toward someone else.
Jesus Christ is saying, “Even if a man should direct at you the most deadly and calculated insult, you must not retaliate!”
I was sitting in a church meeting when one of my church “enemies” got up out of his seat and walked around my back and began castigating me for something I had done that he didn’t like.
Fortunately, I remembered Proverbs 19:11, "It is to a man's glory to overlook an offense.” I waited until he was finished and continued the meeting without acknowledging his presence. The issue was his problem, not mine.
2. Be willing to give up your possessions or rights in order to bring peace (Matthew 5:40).
Jesus said, “In a lawsuit, return the coat that you want before nightfall.”
In other words, if you are involved in a lawsuit and the one doing the suing receives a man’s coat for payment, then let him have it for a day, but give it back that night. He needs it as a blanket that night when it’s cold. Return it to him (see Exodus 22:26-27).
The attitude of a kingdom citizen should be a willingness to surrender even one's coat rather than cause offense or hard feelings with an adversary. Recognize that even those who seek to harm you are people with needs and feelings.
3. Do more than you are required to do for others (Matthew 5:40).
Rome had soldiers all over Palestine to keep peace and collect taxes. There’s no worse job than being an occupying soldier in a foreign land. The Romans were hated. Jews let them have it at every opportunity.
Jesus is referring to a Roman Law which allowed soldiers to conscript a civilian and have him carry a pack for a mile, but no more.
You can imagine the love that this generated between the Romans and the Jews!
Jesus is saying, if a Roman soldier asks you to carry his pack for one mile, then go with him two miles. Go one mile because you have to. But don't go just one. Go two.
Most of us try to find out where the milepost is so we know where to stop. We don't want to go beyond that! We do what we have to do and then quit.
But imagine what it said to a hated Roman soldier when the man he made carry his pack went an extra mile, without being asked. He saw kindness, acceptance, and the love of Jesus.
4. Give generously to those who ask (Matthew 5:42).
The giving and borrowing that Jesus speaks of here should be understood in connection with the biblical principle of caring for the poor. He doesn’t mean that one should give whatever any person asks for, but that one must lend in the sense of Deuteronomy 15:7-8: “If there is a poor man among you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely give him whatever he needs.”
When someone asks to borrow something, we should not turn away from him. In other words, we should give him what he needs. The implication is that the person who asks has a genuine need. Sometimes to give a person what he wants but does not need is a disservice, doing him more harm than good.
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