“You have heard that it was said, “Eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth,” but I tell you do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, give to him your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Did Jesus mean we need to have unfettered giving?
Was he advocating non-retaliation for personal relationships where God has placed government to act?
Did he just mean we just let ourselves be abused?
This Scripture beings with the context of “evil person.” This isn’t just anybody but rather someone who does not have in mind the things of God. But I do not believe it…
Means a woman is to let her husband abuse her and the children
That we should never defend ourselves in court.
That every alcoholic and homeless person should receive the entirety of our wallets and purses.
What does “Do Not Resist an Evil Person” Mean?
I do believe that we are to love and show kindness, a step-beyond kindness to our enemies. It’s like the Scripture says,
On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Rom 12:20)
That action of showing kindness may cost us something. It may cost time, strength, material possessions or even loss of dignity (slap on the face). It is the same self-sacrificial love that Jesus showed us when he left the presence of the Father to love us. At the same time it wasn’t until the right time at the end of his life when, led by the Father, he ultimately surrendered himself to the fullness of their abuse. During the life journey he was disgraced many times and showed kindness in the face of evil repeatedly, but he still stood up for himself, provoked their abuse with questions, and slipped through the crowd when it became dangerous.
One of my co-workers is Dan Baumann who wrote a book called Cell 58. While he was in prison in Iran with a double-life death sentence on his head, he was being regularly beat. One day he felt lead of the Lord. He said to him that if he was going to come to his office every day (to be beat), wouldn’t it be better if they were friends? His abuser was shocked. He had only known hate from those he abused. Right there Dan introduced himself to this man and they shook hands as friends from there on out. It was a powerful turning moment in prison.
This is what I think it’s about.
So there isn’t hard and fast rules here of how we should act. But there is this truth: Kindness, extraordinary kindness, turns our enemies on their hand.