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. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
Consider the stunned reactions of the original listeners to the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus began a shock and awe campaign. His Words seemed impossible, but an unsettling thought grew within them: these Words were true. The humble Carpenter was right, but how could they live without self-interest? Where would justice be found?
Before committing to Christ, I didn't read the Bible. Even so, I heard parts of this famous Sermon. To me, It was incredible, even martyr-like. But I didn't aspire to martyrdom, so I overlooked It. Miraculously, I repented. I turned my eyes toward Jesus. Now I fear some Christians feel like I felt: His Words are hard, so they overlook Them.
But if you overlook His Commands, God overlooks your rewards.If you regard Them seriously, His rewards will chase you down: 'All these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the Voice of the Lord your God' (Deuteronomy 28:2).
Including Jesus' extraordinary Words in Matthew 5:38-42: When we don't resist an evil person, we invite God to defend us--and He will. 'The Lord is the defense of my life. Whom shall I fear?' (Psalm 27:1). When we don't cling to our possessions, we invite God to restore them--and He will. 'The Lord restored Job's losses... Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before' (Job 42:10).
When we go the extra mile in a difficult situation, we invite God to go with us--and He will. 'The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged' (Deuteronomy 31:8).
When we give to those who ask, we invite God to give it back--and He will: 'Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap' (Luke 6:38).
Actors, models and talent for Christ: consider your audience. Acting out God's unusual Commands invites unusual reactions. It creates a continuation of His shock and awe campaign: an unexpected strategy that leaves friends and foes staring in wonder. Unsettling thoughts begin to grow within them. Could these Christians be right? Are they happier without self-interest? Will their God really come through? Of course He will.
Therein continues the chain reaction Jesus had in Mind from the beginning.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Sermon On The Mount series.