Our tendency is to repay people for any negative words or harmful actions, but Jesus taught quite the opposite. The way of the kingdom is counter-cultural and yet life-giving.
Don’t give others what they deserve; give them what they need.
When They Deserve Payback (5:38-42)
- Jesus values justice, but He doesn’t expect us to be responsible for it.
- If we cannot transcend above juvenile retaliation, we reveal the grace of Jesus has yet to transform us thoroughly.
- Don’t just do what the law requires; do what grace enables.
When They Deserve Persecution (5:43-47)
- My reaction to persecution reveals if I want retribution for me more than I desire salvation for them.
- There’s never been a person in history who loved God before God loved him/her.
- If I am to share His love with others, I must initiate it because they will never deserve it.
- Even unreligious people can love others who are for them; Christians are called even to love those against them.
When They Deserve Perfection (5:48)
- Jesus’ call for perfection (τέλειοι) is accurately understood as a plea for growing maturity.
- If you’ve experienced complete redemption, don’t settle for partial transformation.
- Perfection is impossible, but progression is attainable.
Would Jesus say you are making progress in your spiritual life right now?
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.