Ever considered what the Bible says about retaliation? Ever considered what being strong and courageous looks like? Ever considered not doing it the way of the world “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” but instead doing it God’s way “turn the other cheek”? How will you respond differently so that they know God is with you? How will you overflow hope and love in the midst of being attacked or threatened?
Today’s reading comes from Matthew 5…
The Sermon on the Mount
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Salt and Light
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Christ Came to Fulfill the Law
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
Love Your Enemies
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
–from Matthew 5
Today’s devotional from The Global Impact Bible on the topic of Acts of Mercy comes from Matthew 5:39 and reveals the impact of this verse on Jackie Robinson making history.
But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. –from Matthew 5:39
We see in today’s devotional how in 1947, overcoming incredible obstacles, Jackie Robinson became the first black baseball player in the major leagues. Not only did he do incredible things on the field on first and then on second base, at the plate with a .311 lifetime batting average, he also was the man who broke the color barrier by appearing in the 1947 World Series.
Today’s devotional also points to the general manager Branch Rickey who was known for making decisions based on the Bible and thought that Jackie Robinson was the man to help desegregate baseball. We see how Branch approached Jackie to set expectations when he said “I’m looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back.” He was looking for more than just someone who could play ball but someone with the right character and attitude. He wanted “a person with the inner-strength and self-restraint who could withstand intense hostility and aggression without being reactive. He needed an athlete who wouldn’t perceive ‘not fighting back’ as a sign of weakness or lack of courage.” We see in today’s devotional how what he was asking aligns Jesus’ Words when he quoted to him part of the sermon on the mound to show it wasn’t a sign of weakness but of strength in Matthew 5:39 KJV – “but whosoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
We see the impact this made on all of baseball as every year on April 15th baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson day to commemorate his retirement anniversary with everyone player wearing his number 42. In 1997 Major League Baseball retired Robinson’s #42 across all teams. Jackie Robinson was a hall of fame player. Jackie’s story has made into a movie back in 2013 too which shows and tells this remarkable story.
So will you have the guts to retaliate like Jesus instructs us when you are faced with challenges and struggles today? Will you be all that Jesus wants you to be? Will you resist the attacks and lies of the devil? Will you let love overcome evil? Will you fight hate with love? How will you respond and live out your today?
I thank You Lord for this new day and give it up into Your hands. I know the plans You have for me Lord and they are good, they are not to harm me but they are to prosper me. I know God that Your ways are not my natural ways but that Your ways are better than my ways and higher than my ways and so I ask that You would have Your Spirit lead and guide me today, encourage and correct me, help me to be the person You created me to be. Lord, this is the day that You have made, so I will rejoice and be glad in it. Today is a Monday and because it is Your day today is Happy Monday! I choose no matter what happens to let today be Happy Today not because of circumstances, not because of challenges or victories, not because of problems or solutions, but because this is the day that You have made and so I will rejoice and be glad in it! Today is all I have! Yesterday is gone! Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed! So let’s live today out to the fullest with a Happy Today! I ask all this so that in and through it all, You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.