Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An Eye for an Eye

But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Exodus 21:23-24 NKJV)

Have you ever wanted revenge for some wrong done to you or to a loved one? Maybe it doesn’t even have to be someone close to you. I can get very angry with people I don’t even know, or will ever meet, just watching the news.

For example, there was a story in the news this week about a couple who almost let their children starve to death because they were playing “Dungeons and Dragons” online. Stories like that are why I choose to not watch the news most of the time. My heart can’t take that kind of beating.

The Old Testament, as we see above, teaches that revenge is justifiable, as long as it is equal to the offence. An eye for an eye is a very common saying in our world today, even though Jesus made it very clear that He was the catalyst for changing that teaching.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:38-48 NKJV)

Perhaps we could all learn a lesson from the folks who were having a dinner party in Washington back in June. It started about midnight on June 16 when a group of friends was finishing a dinner of marinated steaks and jumbo shrimp on the back patio of a District of Columbia home. That's when a hooded man slid through an open gate and pointed a handgun at the head of a 14-year-old girl. He demanded money from all of them and indicated that he would start shooting if they did not comply. One of the guests spoke up and said "We were just finishing dinner, why don't you have a glass of wine with us?"

The man then released the girl, took a glass of wine, commented on how good it was and asked for some cheese. He was given some cheese, a crystal glass, the remaining bottle of wine. As he was leaving, he apologized for the intrusion, told them that he must have held up the wrong house, and asked for a hug. He then got a group hug from all five guests and he left.

Jesus told us to love our enemies. He taught us that the only way the world knows how different we are as followers of Christ, is how we treat others. Even the worst people love those who love them. We must love those who have wronged us, hurt us, taken advantage of us, and even betrayed us.

Not only does Jesus say to love them, but He also says for us to go out of our way to be kind to them. Just giving lip service to the issue and saying that you forgive and love them isn’t enough. We must put that love into action and be kind to them.

The people at the dinner party did not claim to be Christians, but they took a chance on this principle and it worked. Why not give God a chance in your life to show you His power? If you really truly turn your life over to Him, He can do more with it than you could in ten lifetimes.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19-21 NKJV)

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