Summary: This sermon deals with trying to get revenge. Sometimes we simply need to overlook an insult.
Just Let It Go
There was a fable of a dog who just could not stand for another dog to get the best of him in any way. One day the dog came across a large juicy steak that had somehow fallen off a meat wagon. The dog picked up the steak and started running with it. All was going well until he started across a bridge with water underneath. He noticed, there under the bridge was another dog with a big steak in his mouth.
He began to growl at the dog, and it looked as though the dog was growling back at him. He got so upset that he went to bark at the dog, and when he opened his mouth, the steak fell out into the river and sank to the bottom never to be seen again. Only then did he recognize he was looking at a reflection of himself in the water. When those feelings of anger rose up inside of him, all he had to do was “just let it go” and he would have enjoyed that steak.
A couple of years ago near Akron, a man was driving with his family, and was rudely cut off by a taxi driver. It really made him angry. When the traffic stopped, he jumped out of his car to give the driver a piece of his mind, and maybe even a piece of his fist. When he went after the taxi driver, the driver responded by pulling out a gun and firing. The man fell dead in front of his wife and his kids. He never thought that decision to get even would cost him is life, and his family untold suffering and grief. All he had to do to avoid this tragedy was too “just let it go” when he felt wronged.
Jesus came with a strong message dealing with revenge. He said in Matthew 5:38-39 "You have heard that it was said, ’Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” This one verse is enough to keep some people from giving their lives to Jesus Christ. They’re thinking, “I’m not going to be a wimp”, “nobody is going to take advantage of me”, “if they hit me I’m going to hit them back.”
I hear so often when someone is in trouble, “well she should not have called me a name, or he hit me first.” Yet this person is the one in trouble, and not the other one. In sports, the person who usually gets the penalty is the one who responded to an injustice in anger. In school, the person who is usually in the principal’s office is the person who was getting even. In life, the person who usually ends up in prison, is the one who is getting back at somebody.
When Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, he is telling us to choose to live on a higher level and leave the idea of revenge to God. Think for a moment, who is it that you might have an idea of getting revenge against this day. Is it an ex-spouse who did you wrong. Is it your child’s father or mother who’s acting the fool? Is it someone who has taken the person you loved? Is it a boss whose mean or a co-worker who has stolen credit for your work?
Is it someone who has cheated you out of something that rightfully belonged to you? Is it someone who has hurt you because of something that was said or done? All of these situations lead to the desire to get even, to get revenge. Some people plot and plan for a long time before they finally strike back. In a Star Trek movie, Khan said, “revenge is best when it is served cold.”
But if you took that desire to get even back to Jesus, he would say, “I know that they did you wrong, but, just let it go. Look at what he actually said: Matthew 5:43-45 "You have heard that it was said, ’Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons and daughters of your Father in heaven. There is a lot more to following Christ than showing up at church. To follow Jesus means a willingness to be obedient to God, even when it hurts and you don’t feel like it. You cannot be a wimp and follow Jesus Christ. You truly have to be a person of courage and of faith. You trust God to be able to make wrong right. Anybody can respond with a fight or a gun, but only the few and powerful can give it over to God.