"If a soldier forces you to walk with him one mile, then go with him two miles."
— Matthew 5:41
A bitter-hearted rebel lives in many of us. We hate it when someone takes advantage of us. We view the lane-changing, frenzied, aggressive driver as a jerk and sometimes look to get even with him or her. This bitter-hearted rebel also lived in many Jewish hearts. When Roman soldiers imposed on them to carry their equipment, they resented it deeply. Jesus reminds us, however, that his Kingdom Family reorders all human relationships. Jesus wants us to ask, "How can I be a redemptive blessing even toward those who mistreat me?" His challenging commands awaken us to our responsibility. We are to lead others to Jesus, even those others that we don't particularly like. Incredibly, the impetuous Peter learned this lesson and taught the churches in Asia Minor the same principle. Even more incredibly, the apostle Paul was the product of a movement who sought to convert, not condemn, its greatest opponents and oppressors. But then, the heart of the Kingdom is to follow a King who forgave his persecutors, revilers, and murderers at Passover so they could become his disciples at Pentecost.
Compassionate Father, please give me the grit and grace to act redemptively in the lives of even those who are irritants, opponents, and problems in my life. Through your Spirit, soften my heart that I might see your goal of winning the most difficult people in my life to Christ, rather than trying to get even with them. In Jesus' holy and precious name I pray. Amen.
Today's Verses in Context
"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, don't stand against an evil person. If someone hits you on the right cheek, then turn and let him hit the other cheek too. If a person wants to sue you in court and take your shirt, then let him have your coat too. If a soldier forces you to walk with him one mile, then go with him two miles. If a person asks you for something, then give it to him. Don't refuse to give to a person that wants to borrow from you. "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those people that do bad things to you. If you do this, then you will be true sons of your Father in heaven. Your Father lets the sun rise for the good people and the bad people. Your Father sends rain to people that do good and to people that do wrong. If you love only the people that love you, then you will get no reward. Even the tax collectors do that. And if you are nice only to your friends, then you are no better than other people. Even the people without God are nice to their friends. So you must be perfect, the same as your Father in heaven is perfect.