An Honest Confession
I must admit, at this moment, I am in the same category of those who have a right message to convey, but may be the wrong messenger, apart from the providence of God.
It was Moses who declared to the nation of Israel, “Thou shalt not kill,” and yet was guilty of murder.
It was Solomon who spoke about a virtuous woman, despite having 300 wives and 700 concubines. What about being a virtuous man? Solomon was anything but honorable in his relationships with women.
It was Peter who denied Jesus three times, and then stood up on the Day of Pentecost and accused other Jews of killing the Lord of glory. “You have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23). The act of denying the Son of God three times is as treacherous as the crucifixion itself.
It was Paul who became enraged with Barnabas over John Mark (Acts 15:36-41), and yet told the Ephesians to, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:31,32).
Sometimes, we can have the right information, and not be the best person to deliver it. There is a principle involved. The message is more important than the man. With that confession being made, we want to look at
Four Situations for the Saints
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
This is the famous Lex Talionis, or Law of Retribution, expressed in the Law of Moses. The provision of Lex Talionis reflects the natural, fleshly desire for revenge, but also the need for justice. There is an innate feeling in man that a wrong must be punished. The purpose of Lex Talionis was that the punishment, or justice, was to be portioned. For example, a whole community need not be destroyed for the transgression of one person. The mob mentality was discouraged by the Law of Lex Talionis.
“And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” (Deut. 19:21) Study Exodus 21:23-25; Leviticus 24:17-21
Deterrence of crime was another principle associated with the Law of Lex Talionis. Some will argue that punishment does not stop crime. That is true. But the behavior of a particular criminal can be stopped, and a sense of justice served. While Jesus understood and honored the Law of Moses, Christ taught His disciples there is more to life than being right. There is a principle of spiritual forbearance. There is an alternative way to respond to injurious behavior to self, and others. It is a way that has come to characterize a large part of Christian dogma and practice.
It is a way that would be studied by non-Christians, such as Mahatma Ghandi (October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948) It is a way that would be preached by civil rights leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968). It is the way of non-resistance.
39a But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil…
A distinction must be made between a personal response to a private offense, and those acts against individuals which must be processed in the context of social justice. Society cannot allow rapists, murderers, thieves, pimps, pedophiles, drug pushers, and other deviant forms of humanity to exit without boundaries or strict accountability. A civilized nation will have a policeman on every corner, and a just judge on ever bench, in every community, small or large, to address any expression of wrongful social behavior. As there is social evil, there is national evil which must be resisted in the strongest form, in the manner of a righteous crusade.
Order of the Day6 June 1944
Supreme Allied CommanderGeneral Dwight D. Eisenhower
To theSoldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one.
Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.
…Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”
Ideally, social, and national evil can be addressed through the divine institutions God has established to protect people. Then, on a personal basis, much grace can be shown to those who hurt us.
According to Ronald Regan’s daughter, Maureen, President Reagan forgave John Hinckley, Jr. (b. 1955) for trying to assassinate him on March 30, 1981. President Regan told his daughter, “I know that my healing depends on my forgiving him” (Melvin Banks).
In the act of being stoned, Stephen prayed a prayer of intercession from a heart of forgiveness. “And he knelt down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:60)
Being arrested without a cause, and unjustly accused, Jesus did not resist evil and while He was on the Cross of Calvary, forgave those who were killing Him. “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots” (Luke 23:34).
Christians can choose not to retaliate for personal wrongs. Paul amplified this concept to the Christians in Rome. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:19-21).
Four Situations forPersonal Applications
To illustrate in a specific way what He was saying, Jesus set forth four situations that would be familiar to His audience.
39b …but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also…First SituationWhat to do When Physically Assaulted
The attack Jesus speaks of is a very violent and insulting act whereby a person takes the back of their right hand and strikes the person in front of them on their right cheek. Jesus said, “turn to him the other also.” As a prophet, Jesus knew this would happen to Him when He was arrested.
“And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? 23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?” (John 18:22, 23).
Jesus did not retaliate, though the Lord did challenge the action. As a principle, it is the will of the Lord, that His disciples in the Kingdom of God, not engage in the Law of Lex Talionis. We must trust the Holy Spirit to help guide us in its implementation.
What to do When Sued
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
At this period in history, people in Palestine, and throughout the Roman Empire, generally had two garments. They had an inner garment, and a large, heavy outer garment which was the coat. People wore a tunic, and they wore a coat. The coat was so important that if a person borrowed money on the coat, the person who gave him the money had to return the coat every night in order to it use for his comfort. Jesus establishes the principle that Christians are not to live by the right of possession.
“The things that I love and hold dear to my heart
Are just borrowed they’re not mine at all,
Jesus only let me use them to brighten my light
So, remind me, remind me dear Lord.
Roll back the curtain of memory now and then
Show me where you brought me from
And where I could have been,
Remember I’m human, and humans forget
So, remind me, remind me dear Lord.”
What to do When Personally Touched
by an Unjust Law
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
The Jews lived under the tyranny of Roman occupation. It was legal for a Roman solider, or citizen, to impress a Jew into service. One illustration of this is that of Simon of Cyrene who was compelled to help Christ carry the cross.
“And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” (Matt. 27:32)
Because of the Roman Law of Compulsion, the Jews began to put up mile markers so they could determine precisely how far a mile was.
Jesus said in essence,
“Take down the mile marker. Go the second mile.” “By going the extra, or second, mile, we live by a different standard. God’s standard” (Nancy Wildman).
Another principle the Lord Jesus establishes with the illustration of the second mile is that Christians are to render to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that belong to Him.
What to do with our Personal Finances
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Jesus establishes the principle that Christians are to give generously to those with a legitimate need. There is a difference between need, and greed. A religious charlatan who wants your money as a “Seed of Faith” in order to buy a private jet, or support a lavish lifestyle should be refused (Ashes to Gold, Patti Roberts).
To help understand Twenty-four Biblical Principles of Grace Giving, a handout has been provided. You will review some important concept, including the following.
First, grace giving is to be practiced. The Lord does not need, or want, either the spirit of a greedy Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-24), or a miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens). We can find a need and fill it. While no one can do everything, we can all do something as the Lord leads.
Second, giving is to benefit the person to whom the gift is given, which means a generous gift should be offered, as needed.
Third, giving is primarily to be done privately, and secretly, as unto the Lord. The believer is to give as Barnabas gave, and not as Ananias and Sapphira gave (Acts 4:36-5:2).
Fourth, giving is to reflect the character and temperament of the recipient. In order not to shame anyone, a gift of grace should be offered, without expecting it to be repaid. Freely we have received, freely we give. Fifth, grace giving is a privilege as well as an obligation, for giving is nothing less than giving to God.
Sixth, grace giving is to be rooted in gratitude for what Jesus Christ has done.
“He paid a debt He did not owe,
I owed a debt I could not pay,
I needed Someone To wash my sins away;
And now I sing a brand-new song,
Amazing grace all day long,
Christ Jesus paid a debt That I could never pay.”
The Law of Moses demanded ten percent.
As the Lord leads, that is a good starting point.
However, in the Kingdom of God, there is no fixed percentage. The principle of grace is to guide our giving.