“… bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
— Matthew 5:44
Remember the last time someone wronged you? Maybe a friend betrayed a confidence. Or perhaps someone attacked your character or lied to you or…well, any one of thousands of scenarios. Whatever the offense, how did you respond?
In matters of good and evil, our responses can take one of four directions. First of all, some people return evil for good. This is the Devil’s way of doing things. We see this attitude demonstrated by criminals and by cruel and tyrannical governments. You offer these people your best, and they hurt you in return. Then some people return evil for evil. These people aren’t devil-like; they’re beast-like. Animals, especially wild animals, generally react this way. If you step on a snake’s tail, you can soon expect to find its fangs in your ankle. Others return good for good. This isn’t devilish or beastly; it is a natural human response, the response of an unregenerate person. We don’t find this hard to accept. In fact, when we do good to others, we expect good in return. But the fourth response, returning good for evil, makes us halt in our tracks. Jesus says, “But I tell you not to resist an evil person.” He then gives some illustrations of this: If someone takes away your coat, let that person have your cloak also; if someone borrows from you, do not turn away; and if anyone compels you to go a mile, go two. If we were to put such a response into practice, we’d see God do tremendous things through us.
Jesus, in His great love and compassion, has told us how to respond to others, especially those who hurt us. But we can’t respond this way on our own; it’s not part of our human nature. Instead, we must turn to Christ Himself, who returned ultimate evil with ultimate good. Christ went into the very depths of ruin and Hell for our evilness, and in His goodness He suffered for us and conquered evil for all time. Only through Christ can we gain the ability and the desire to go the second mile, to turn the other cheek.
Has someone done you wrong recently? How can you return good for evil today?