In a recent misunderstanding, suppose a friend insults you and makes an accusation against you that clearly isn’t true. In fact, a moment later he posts a sly remark on Facebook that is undeniably targeted at you. How do you respond? Certainly, your sinful nature urges you to lash out and let him know how you feel, to retaliate. As a believer, what is God’s call in this situation?
As we continue our study through the Sermon on the Mount, we saw what Jesus had to say about retaliation (Matthew 5:38-41). Jesus teaches that believers should not retaliate when wronged but should demonstrate love and self-sacrifice. How about you? How do you respond when someone wrongs you? Do you react in kind, trying to ensure that person gets what you feel is deserved? Or do you lay down your own rights for the sake of the gospel and seek that person’s good
Of course, these verses do not reject civil authority (Romans 13:1-4). If a person breaks into your car, it is not wrong to report that to the police. In fact, reporting the crime may be more loving than not reporting it since being held accountable for sin brings opportunity for repentance and change.
As believers, we must remember that our journey is marked by the way of the cross. Our Savior modeled a life of self-sacrifice, not cruel retaliation, in the face of ongoing attack. We must live this same kind of sacrificial life, even when wronged. When we are mistreated, we leave vengeance in God’s hands (Romans 12:17-19).
Of course, we aren’t able to live this kind of self-sacrificial life in our own strength. We are helped as we meditate on the gospel, remembering what Christ has done for us in the midst of our sin and rebellion, and as we seek to walk in the power of the Spirit (1 Peter 2:21-25, Ephesians 5:18). Let’s pray for each other and help each other live out this kind of Christlike self-sacrifice even when wronged.