Friday, November 27, 2015

Matthew 5:38-42 -- On Space to Change

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away."
Matthew 5:38-42

I think the higher law that Christ taught is often hard for us to hear.  If someone hits us, let them hit us again?  If someone takes our stuff, give them more?  Let people compel us to do things?  Give people whatever they ask for?  Some of this stuff sounds like we are encouraging abuse or allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of.  And I don't think that God means necessarily that we should allow or encourage spousal or family abuse or anything extreme like that.  These verses are balanced by Alma 61:14, which reminds us that there are times when we should resist evil.  But I do think that Christ's message overall, at least for us as individuals, is: don't fight back.  Instead of getting upset when people ask for things, or take advantage of us, most of the time a better reaction than anger and fighting back is just... do it.  Allow it, go with it and see where it goes.  Accept the loss and move on.  We don't always like to hear that, because we want justice... but usually we only want justice when it is us being wronged or manipulated, and not when it is us doing the wronging or manipulation.  Think of what the world would be like if there was perfect restoration (an eye for an eye) without any repentance or mercy.  And how do we make room for the repentance and mercy God wants to grant us?  ... Someone, somewhere has to stop demanding justice.  We have to back down and do good even when faced with evil, so that there is room for mercy in our lives and in the lives of the people around us.  If we make room for mercy in our lives, and do good even when others do evil to us, then God will have more room to open up some mercy for us as well.  Justice will be served, eventually, when Christ judges us all at the last day.  But right now he gives us space to repent and change.  Let's remember that, and work to do as Christ asks, and provide that space to others as well.

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