"The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God." – Genesis 17:8
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
In Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20 and Deuteronomy 19:21, God gives his people the command “eye for eye, tooth for tooth.” In other words, the courts that the Almighty had established were given the ability to injure any criminal with the same injury that he had committed. This was not an unusual law; in fact, the Greeks and Romans had both established this idea as well. In fact, it is said (by Adam Clarke) that in Athens the law was so strictly held to that “if a man put out the eye of another who had but one, the offender was condemned to lose both his eyes, as the loss of one would not be an equivalent misfortune.” This was not an arbitrary, man-made law. “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth” was a God given directive. So, why would Jesus try to rescind it if he did not “come to abolish the Law or the Prophets” (Matthew 5:17)? Well, this was a law for judges to take care of; however, there were some people who were using this as a directive for personal revenge.
Isn’t it easy, when someone personally attacks you, to get upset and try to ‘get back at them’? It would be so easy to spread the same kind of rumor about them that they have spread about you…or to deny them something they’ve denied you…or to say something demeaning to them like they’ve done to you. Doesn’t revenge come naturally for us? I know that it did for me. It’s only been after much reflection and meditation on the life of Christ that vengeance isn’t my knee-jerk reaction to someone wronging me. Still, I need to be reminded of these verses regularly. Ask yourself, what good will revenge do? It might make you feel better than them for a time; but, you’ll eventually realize your own stupidity and childishness. Don’t worry, God will humble you. He does it to me quite regularly.
Read those verses again…Did you? Ok…Remember them. “Do not resist one who is evil.” Think about that and remember that Jesus did not retaliate when spat upon, or called names, or crucified. He was humble until the end. Can we justify being anything different? Revenge has no place in the Christian’s life and if it has a foothold in your life, pray that God might work. His Holy Spirit can purify you from all unrighteousness. Submit yourself and allow him to.