An Eye for an Eye?

Series: MasterClass | Week 4: Love in Real Life

Day Three Matthew 5:38-42

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.” – Matthew 5:38-42 (NLT)

Learn From The Word
Jesus now gives His fifth of six “you have heard it said…but I say” statements, this time addressing the spirit of revenge the Pharisees had normalized under the law. While the law did indeed state, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” the intent in its Old Testament context was to establish punishment that fit a crime. This law protected the vulnerable by limiting inhumane punishment that often went beyond what the crime deserved. Hear the heart behind Jesus’ words. He isn’t calling us to be doormats, to turn a blind eye to violence, or to give when it would do more harm than good. His words are a call to live the kind of humble, sacrificial life of love toward others that He exemplified.

Put It Into Practice
Spend a few minutes now doing a heart check. Are you a person who desires for things to be fair? Do you usually seek justice above mercy? Does your heart often seek revenge for the ways you are wronged? Spend some time confessing to God ways that you have sought revenge. Reread today’s verses. What is an action you can take today to run in the opposite direction of revenge, serving an enemy out of a heart of love that is possible only in His strength?

More verses for meditation on this topic: Psalm 73, Psalm 19:14, and Romans 12:19.

For Families with Kids at Home
One of the most natural human impulses is to seek revenge when we’ve been wronged, and our kids are no different. Explain to your kids today that Jesus teaches us a different way. Jesus demonstrates that we are to be kind, even to those who have hurt us. In doing so, God can change people’s hearts because our kindness is so out of the ordinary.

Have a conversation with your kids about a time someone has hurt them recently. Maybe it was a family member or a classmate. How did that person make them feel? How can they respond in a way that is kind and loving, even if that person doesn’t necessarily deserve it? Explain that we do this because Jesus did the same thing to us when we hurt Him. We love because Jesus first loved us!