Bible with Cross ShadowThere are passages in the Sermon on the Mount that are impossible to understand with the carnal mind. The fact that our minds are in the process of renewal leaves us in a vulnerable position. Perhaps this is God’s intent: To help us experience the humility that precipitates our taking on the mind of Christ.

I confess that I am experiencing that humility in regards to this passage:

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Matthew 5:38-41

Personally, I have lived a relatively safe life. There have been very few times in my 55 years that I have faced an evil person, and the temptation to resist them. I have not had the “opportunity” to turn the other cheek. I have not been sued; nor have I been compelled to go one mile. I hope you will ignore my lack of personal experience long enough to consider the following encouragements.

Firstly, as our society continues to devolve – as the One Who restrains is being removed – I am becoming more confident that the day is coming when our houses will be tested by evil. Consequently, I have been asking the Lord to prepare my heart and mind to respond as He has instructed. I recognize that such a response is beyond me, but I know that it is not beyond Him. I trust that He will do what He requires when we are faced with this type of evil.

Secondly, there are a number of related issues that tend to complicate the hearing and doing of this passage. War is one; another, the defense of the helpless. Much has been said about both, so I don’t feel the need to go there. I bring them up simply to make a point.

It is easy, unnecessary and dangerous to allow related issues to cloud the sayings of Jesus. This passage is about our personal response to the threat of an evil person. As important as the related issues are – and this passage to them – we must understand this saying simply for what it says; for we will be required to do it, just as Jesus said it.

Lastly, it is important to recognize that, unlike the passages on murder and adultery, where He simply sought to expand our understanding of the Law, here Jesus has presented a radically new perspective. The faulty perspective is that the Law was created to give us rights; in this case, the right to justice and vengeance (as if we were God).

Jesus is saying that these are not our rights, but those of the Father. He is encouraging us to shift our perspective back to that of the bondservant and child; to give up our rights and trust God in the face of evil; so that He can use us as instruments of His love, goodness and glory.

May God bless us all with the grace to trust and obey; that we might overcome evil with good.

Humbly yours and forever His,