Dear Presby Family: Revenge Ruins Relationships

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”-Matthew 5:44-45

How many of us have ever heard (or used) the phrase, “Don’t get mad; get even!”? Most of us want to fight back when someone hurts us. We want to prove we are right and the other person is wrong. In our highly-polarized society, the fabric of self-preservation is woven deeply within us, and we are constantly looking to hurt those who hurt us.

As we have so often seen in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus would have us behave differently. In what we’re going to be studying together this week, Jesus refers to an Old Testament law that required justice for a person who was wronged, but also set limits on the punishment of an offender. The truth is that relationships don’t function very well when all we focus on is getting our due.

Under God’s rule, justice is tempered with great mercy and with love. We are to be willing to show kindness to people who take advantage of us. We are to be prepared to give our time and resources to those who don’t deserve them. And we ought to serve where and when we may not want to. 

This means that many of us will find Jesus’ calling extremely challenging. But Jesus empowers us to give and show love even in the most difficult situations. When he was beaten, he not only turned the other cheek; he offered his whole body to death. In Jesus, God’s justice is tempered with great mercy. 

May his grace empower us to go the extra mile and to love those who seem unlovable.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Aaron

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