Matthew 5:38-39 (New Living Translation)
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.”
Jesus taught his disciples to treat others as they would wish to be treated. Another way to phrase this Golden Rule might be, If someone slaps you on the right cheek, don’t slap him back. Don’t hurt others just because they have hurt you.
When we give others “a taste of their own medicine,” we usually end up poisoning ourselves and making a painful situation worse. Retaliation may seem like a remedy, a way to even the score so that the offender doesn’t “win.” But hurting back never brings closure; rather, it digs deeper into the original wound, worsening the hurt and widening the gap that must be crossed in order to bring about true healing and reconciliation. We make our job of forgiving harder when we demand an eye for an eye, a hurt for a hurt.
Jesus gave us a better remedy—to love our enemies and show kindness to those who offend us. Blessing and comfort await us not in the old covenant law of justice and retaliation but in Jesus’ new covenant law of mercy and forgiveness.
FATHER, I confess that sometimes I feel pulled to retaliate when others injure me. I want to make them suffer as I have suffered. This behavior makes sense in our world ruled by sin and selfish intentions but has no place in your kingdom. I ask for grace to accept unfair assaults without seeking revenge and to resist the temptation to respond according to the world’s sense of righteousness instead of yours. Change my heart until I can forgive as Jesus forgave those who mocked him and nailed him to the cross.
Matthew 5:43-45; John 13:34
Is it ever right to hurt someone in the same way that he or she has hurt you?