Hurt People Hurt People
Matthew 5:38,39 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 the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Jesus’ teaching is just plain hard sometimes. I can love my neighbor. I can even summon the strength to act lovingly to people I do not like. I know some people however, to whom I just could not turn the other cheek. If they said a harsh word or raised a hand, I just do not know if I would be able to bite my tongue or stay my hand.
It is my right to be offended and to demand justice, is it not? When I am hurt or injured by some insult, I am justified in hurting back. This is my human nature and it seems to me to be perfectly appropriate.
Jesus however, says that rather than responding with evil, as his follower, I am to choose to allow evil to be done to me. I am not to seek revenge or respond in kind. Jesus says it is better to maintain my right behavior than to seek justice against those who would hurt me.
I have to admit; I really do not like this. It just seems so wrong to me to allow myself to become a doormat to those who would use me. Jesus’ teaching at times was so contrary to our nature.
That, I think, is the point. As a follower of Christ, I am not to follow my own nature. I am to always choose to follow him. When I am hurt, I want to hurt back. Jesus says, No! Choose to not follow yourself. Choose not to engage in evil. Like me, allow evil to be done to you and in doing so, your gaze remains focused on me. I know everything in you screams that this is not fair. So, take your eyes off of everything in you. Turn your eyes to me.
The most difficult application of this, I think is unfortunately at home. As little as I like to admit it, my harshest words are often reserved for those I love the most. It is of course, not that my loved ones are the most difficult people I know. It is that I am the most difficult with the ones to whom I am closest. Thus, I find it the easiest to respond in hostile manner with those under my own roof. If I feel offended at home, I am very likely to respond in an offensive manner.
Jesus insists however, that I am to surrender my offense and need for justice. I am not to perpetuate hurt in or out of my own home. I am not responsible for the behavior of others. I am responsible only for my own behavior and I am to continually take my eyes off of self and keep them on God, even when my nature screams against it.