Teenside Daily Devotional

Read Matthew 5:38-42.

Jesus begins this passage with the quote “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” from Exodus 21:24. The people in his time would have understood this to mean that if someone wronged you, you are justified in wronging them back in the same way. I mean, that’s how I read it too. This makes sense in our worldly human logic. We think that everyone should be as considerate and kind as we are. And when they’re not, then we cease to be as well. However, there is context surrounding this saying! Thankfully, Jesus made an effort to stop this line of thinking and save us from our selfishness right here.

If we return to look at Exodus 21 (which I recommend that you do), we see a very specific context for this saying. After reading through most of it, you reach a section about men hitting a pregnant woman. Now, you may think this is an odd thing to read through, and I would agree, but the focus here is on the quote at hand. Right before this line, we have “and he shall pay as the judges determine.” So, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is not something to be used for us to measure what each other deserve for our actions. It’s design was so that a judge, or some sort of civil authority, could decide on a fitting punishment for one’s actions.

This is where Jesus begins to correct what our line of thinking should be when someone makes the choice to wrong us. What he is not saying here is to let someone keep hitting or robbing you. There are plenty of verses in the Bible where people rightfully defend themselves. If you are struck on the “right cheek” then it was most likely a backhanded slap with their right hand. This was, in Jesus’ time, more an insult than a direct attack on someone. Jesus is simply saying that we are called to take steps to show love to those that would seek to wrong us. In situations where it would not require putting ourselves in a harmful situation, we are to retaliate with love. Would this not set us apart from the world? Wouldn’t it become more clear to this person who God is and what He is about if you chose to respond this way?

*Take a moment to journal these questions. Write down your thoughts, questions, and concerns. Then date your entry. One of the coolest things is being able to look back and see how God came through for you.*

  1. Think about situations in your life where you have been insulted. What is your tendency in those moments? For us, an “eye for an eye” seems very extreme– but what about gossip? Is it easy to talk about someone who is talking about you?

  1. Jesus is setting up a new structure in which we learn to love people and show kindness unconditionally (as He does). You may have heard the phrase “go the extra mile”. When Jesus uses this phrase, He is referring to people who have wronged us. How does this change the way you view that phrase? In what ways do you need to implement this in your situation/life?

  1. As we look toward Easter, we see the perfect example of Jesus living this out. Except, much more drastically. Jesus died for the people who crucified him. He did it to save the people who hurled insults on him while he hung on the cross. And in case you think, “well at least that wasn’t” me– take a second to think about the things you have done to insult Jesus (lying, cheating, gossiping, etc.). Now, take a moment to thank Jesus that he didn’t hold you to those things– he chose to forgive, and beyond that, He chose to give himself for you. The ultimate gift of love. Romans 5:8

Prayer: Spend some time praying about the things you journaled. Pray that God would help you to show kindness to others when they insult you. Ask that God would show you the places that you need to choose to “walk the extra mile”. Thank Jesus that, while you were still living in sin, He chose to die for you.

***Easter is coming! Prepare your heart by taking some time to think about Christ’s sacrifice for you.

Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/169Fs68hROYRdS362T8D9w
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