Which is more natural to do when someone hurts you? Do you forgive and show love when someone attacks you? Or if someone hurts you, do you lash out in anger or with other forms of retaliation? Our self-centered, sinful nature directs our minds to pay someone back for hurting us. But, if you yield your mind to the Spirit, then you will naturally forgive and do what is good to those who offend you. Then again, we don’t live in a perfect world. We naturally want to set up boundaries for people who are destructive in what they say and do. People don’t realize how hurtful they are because their resentment triggers their responses. Some people may have an evil spirit that is intent on hurting others. Boundaries are wise to protect from abusive harm. What does Jesus say we should do?
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:38-39, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
This teaching is hard to comprehend with our carnal minds. God’s love in us and His goodness transcends evil and our desire to retaliate. Jesus’s love for mankind gave Him the strength to be struck and beaten for us. When He was arrested and crucified, Jesus did not fight back or resist. Rather, He asked His Father in Heaven to forgive them before He died for them (Luke 23:34). Following Jesus’ example, we should not resist evil people because they don’t know how to love and be good. We, too, can choose to love and forgive those who have wronged us. But you don’t have to hang out with destructive people unless God has called you to do so. The story of David Wilkerson comes to mind. He was a country preacher from Philipsburg, PA that felt God calling him to go to New York City to share the gospel with the gangs in New York City. You can read his story in the Cross and the Switch Blade. Teen Challenge came out of that ministry, which is still helping drug addicts and alcoholics be free through Jesus.
The website commentary Got Questions (2023) says the following. It’s important to note that by saying, “Do not resist an evil person,” Jesus is not requiring us to be pacifists or to never resist evil forces. In fact, James 4:7 and 1 Peter 5:9 command us to resist the devil and his evil practices. If someone threatens or attacks you or your loved one, it’s not wrong to take up a defense or to seek justice against the wrongdoer. What Jesus requires by commanding us not to resist an evil person is to not retaliate. We do not respond in kind, and we shouldn’t “get even.” Instead of seeking revenge, Jesus tells us we should “turn the other cheek.” In other words, we should adopt an attitude of humility and seek to be peaceful with those who have wronged us.”
The Apostle Paul explains how to deal with those that do evil in Romans 12:17-21.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
20To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The Apostle Peter also encouraged his readers not to repay evil for evil in 1Peter 3:8-12.
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
9Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”
10For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.
12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
1Thesalonians 5:15 states, “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.”
Proverbs 17:13 states, “If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.”
James 3:13 states. “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.”
Jesus’s instructions to not resist the one who is evil and to turn the other cheek is tough to do. With God’s help and putting on humility with love, we can forgive and bless those who do us evil. When we feel offended and we want to repay evil to the one who offended us, then capture your thoughts, give them to God, forgive, then seek peace and do good in return. If someone has done evil against you in your past, you can heal those memories to stop the resentment from controlling your reactions. To learn how, read my online book here.
Diminish the “Self-centered” Belief to Expand Goodness (Other-centered)
Part 1: How to Achieve Genuine Goodness?
Part 2: How to Overcome Evil with Good.
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