Summary: an eye for an eye, insults, generosity, enemies, borrowers and God’s love
Did Jesus tell us to be as perfect as God? How is that possible?
Let us understand the measure of love God expects.
We will examine Matthew 5:38-48, an eye for an eye, insults, generosity, enemies, borrowers and God’s love.
Matthew 5:38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Matthew 5:38 Eye for Eye
How did Jesus explain an eye for an eye? Jesus addressed a law that many have applied in error, an eye for an eye, legally called lex talionis. A vindictive application might be trading tit for tat, escalating hostilities and hindering peace. A principle might be monetary compensation equal to an eye. Jesus taught a higher application of the the eye for an eye principle. As with many of Jesus’ teachings, this is very hard. Jesus suggested that if we have been responsible for injury to another, go above and beyond in compensation. Jesus wants us to go further than mere justice. He wants us to learn to create good will.
Matthew 5:39 Insults
What did Jesus say about responding to an insulting backhanded slap on the cheek? He said to turn the other cheek, not to retaliate but to humiliate ourselves by allowing further slaps. Even the business world understands that the best thing to do with a customer complaint is to allow them to vent without interruption, to get it off their chest. Give them time to calm down, and after having a hearing, many become a more satisfied customer. If even the carnal world understands how to win people, by respectfully giving them opportunity to fully complain, then how much more should we take insults in order to win peace for Christ.
Matthew 5:40 Generosity
What did Jesus say about losing the shirt off our backs in court? Perhaps we lost before we even got to court, by letting things go too far (1 Corinthians 6:7)? Did we fail to create peace? Were we at fault? Either way, Jesus told his disciples how to really win in heaven’s eyes. Give more than was asked for. Go way above the settlement price. If someone sues us for the shirt off our backs, let’s gift wrap our coat as well and give it away to the plaintiff. Does Jesus want us to be suckers who are easily taken advantage of, or does living generously really work?