38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION ®. NIV®. COPYRIGHT © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
In this section, Jesus teaches us about the power of the gospel for our conflicted relationships. First, he emphasizes that personal retaliation is not necessary. Even better, he teaches us that kingdom citizens can bless and serve those with whom they may be in conflict with. Kingdom citizens can go well beyond what is demanded or even expected from them. Second, he teaches that we should love our enemies and pray for them. This radical gospel-orientation to our relationships challenges us in many ways. May we follow in the pattern of our Lord himself: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
- Why do we struggle so much with revenge or retaliation?
- Are there any relationships in your life where there is conflict presently?
- How can you pursue restoration in that relationship?
- What does it look like practically for us to entrust ourselves to “him who judges justly” as stated in the verse above in the midst of a contentious relationship?
- How does this attitude demonstrate the power of the gospel?
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