Refusing to Retaliate
[00:00:00] I heard a story.
[00:00:02] Once about a man who was driving down a highway in and he was stopped by a police officer. I was like these these stories and the police officer came up to the window and the driver the man with his wife sitting next to him said what’s the what’s the problem officer. And he said well I clocked you doing or you were going 65. In. Are you doing 75 miles an hour in a 55 mile an hour zone.
[00:00:33] And the man said No sir I was going 65 and his wife said. Now Harry you know you’re going 80. And the officer said well I’m going to give you a ticket.
[00:00:48] For your broken tail light. It’s broken. I didn’t know I had a broken tail light and again his wife piped up to now had you known about that taillight for five weeks now.
[00:01:02] The officer said well I’m going to give you a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt.
[00:01:09] And the man said Well I just took it off as you were walking up to the car and and the white hair you know. You never wear your seatbelt. And the officer or at that time that the man was just very frustrated and really upset with his wife. And he turned to me and I said well you just shut your mouth and the police officer looked down through the window and says Mandas does your husband talk to you that way all the time and his wife says no. Only when he’s drunk.
[00:01:48] You know. That. Really points to the fact that we need to be very careful.
[00:01:58] In what we speak. We need to take great care and either speak the truth or not speak at all. As we continue here in the Sermon on the Mount the series we’re going through I’d like to remind you first what what if you remember what Jesus is doing. Is is he is confronting. The abuses of the Pharisees and what they were teaching the people. And some of these topics you might think wow you know this really isn’t relevant today. But I would disagree that number one. Jesus thought it was important enough that he would tell all the people there who were listening to him. And secondly God thinks it’s important enough for us in that he had it recorded. In his word. So if you will turn your Bibles to Matthew chapter 5 Matthew 5 and we’ll start in verse 33 to 37.
[00:03:18] Says again you have heard that it was said to those of old you shall not swear falsely but shall pre-formed 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 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.
[00:03:58] Or no. Anything more than this comes from evil Now all this swearing in these shows. Really were designed originally to encourage fruitfulness to make truthfulness more solemn solemn. Serious but unfortunately by the time the Jesus came. The Jews had built an entire legalistic system around the Old Testament teaching in a Jewish code of law which they called the Mishnah.
[00:04:40] There is one hold Tractate give it over to the question of oaths including detail consideration of when they’re binding and when they are not. For example one right Rabbi says that if you swear by Jerusalem you’re not bound by your vow. But another.
[00:05:08] Rabbi will say if you swear toward Jerusalem then you are bound by your vow.
[00:05:19] So so the Schwerin. This this legal ISDE system that they came up with degenerated that they had terrible rules. And ambit. But what they trying to you know this. Is to let you know when you can get them out. Get by with lying and deception and when you can. So they put these minute little details if you swear toward Jerusalem or by Jerusalem and and.
[00:05:48] These these these rules no longer fostered truthfulness as what they were supposed to do but they weaken the cause.
[00:05:58] They promoted the see. They were warantee elusively it is becoming.
[00:06:06] A lie. Justification for lying. You know it’s funny how sometimes we can manipulate our words. So we are not technically lying but what we say is there’s in order to deceive you of what the real truth is. I don’t know if you ever have done that or know of anyone who has. But if it ever comes back on you you can say well I really didn’t why did I. Because I said this. But the way you said it you said it for the purpose of deceiving someone and making them think something that is not truthful and that’s what these Pharisees were doing by these by these laws and then Jesus gives some examples here. Says men are not to swear by the heaven or by the earth.
[00:07:06] For they are God’s throne and they are His footstool respectively. They must not swear in and literally is the proposition here. Whether it makes a difference buyer or toward literally we’re not to swear toward Jerusalem for it’s the City of God.
[00:07:25] The Great King. And then it goes on. Jesus goes on says you aren’t even to swear by your own head. For that you can’t even change the color. Today we have dies on all of that. But he said you cannot even change the color of a single hair.
[00:07:45] And so what was happening. Jesus was referring to is that you’re swearing by over your swearing by something over which God alone has ultimate control even the hairs and the number of hair on your head. So in other words Jesus relates every oath. To God to swear by anything is to swear by God because God in some way. Stands behind everything. And Jesus there is no oath there is. That’s trivial.
[00:08:27] All oaths are solemn pledges and we are to speak the truth. And so really the question here and the point here that the Jesus is making is truthfulness. The follower of Jesus is to simply say yes. Which means yes. And no which means no. In the context of Jesus this day going any where beyond this comes from the evil one. I mean the evil ones called the father of lies. Now this this is not speaking. See they just made trivial those oaths back then. And this isn’t speaking of of. Going to court. And you know. Saying that you will tell the truth or anything. And so Jesus is teaching in this matter truth on this end and it made a big impression there. In the early church for her part probably what is a first Baptist soul first letter that was written was probably written by James and the Book of James. He points and emphasizes the same thing in James 5. Verse 12 it says.
[00:09:55] But above all my brothers do not swear either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath but let your yes be yes and your no be no so that you may not fall under condemnation so. So Jane which is the brother of Jesus took.
[00:10:14] You know James very likely may have been there on the Mount.
[00:10:18] Listening to Jesus I don’t know but he stressed the point in the letter and the epistle the hero so when we take our own when when we make commitments about the future we have to remember we don’t know what the future will bring and that’s exactly what Jesus reminds us in this passage that we don’t have the power to change one hair on our head from one color to another and am I.
[00:10:48] I tend to gravitate towards this. I’ll tell Brother Tammy I’ll see you tomorrow. What does Tim say.
[00:10:59] Yeah. See the Lord willing. Right. You know where he gets that it’s from James James Chapter 4 verses 13 to 15. The writer of the book James James says. Now. Come now you who say Today or tomorrow we’ll go into such and such a town and spend a year there and train and make a profit. Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life for you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. So instead James says you ought to say if the Lord wills we will live and do this or do that.
[00:11:45] If the Lord will. We don’t know what God’s will is. You know. I kind of I came from Kansas City my. My folks my grandparents came from L.A.. You know where L.A. is don’t you. Lower Arkansas. That’s what my my daddy always used to tell me. I’m from L.A. now. So kind of we came from lower Arkansas. I grew up in Kansas City there. But you know many places in the rules settings you hear him say this. I’ll be there next week. LORD will ruin the creek don’t rise.
[00:12:25] And that is at least our plans for the future.
[00:12:30] Our thinking should be that the Lord wills this. This is what I want to do. So simply Jesus saying here let what you say be simple yes or no. Anything more comes from evil. So Chris you should and really we should have the integrity that neither oath nor signature is even needed. Our word should be trustworthy. You know we need to be radically different from the culture we are part of. And it’s interesting it’s interesting that the Psalms in Psalm 15 the Psalms defines the character. Of the person. Who is fitted to abide in the Lord’s tabernacle or dwell in His Holy Hill. And what is talking about is communing with God in and enjoying his presence forever. And one of the marks interesting one of the marks. That’s specified there in Psalm 15 is that he. Who swears to his own hurt and does not change. That is who at no cost. Will go back. Upon his sworn word. Who doesn’t change. Swears to his own hurt. That if I tell someone and then we don’t have to take an oath. By God I will do this. But when we tell something to commit that we will do this. We will follow through and here the person described as a person who who. Abides in the Lord’s tabernacle and dwells in his holy hill is the one that swears his own herd and does not change even if it hurts us even if things changes and it is of great sacrifice. To keep my word.
[00:14:38] I keep my word. See that’s so unfamiliar. In the world today. I understand whether it’s true or not that the man Ray Kroc who bought out McDonald’s and stuff. Said. That.
[00:14:58] He had promised them certain things and he did not carry through because they were only promises. It was not written down in the contract. You know. We as believers shouldn’t have to make contracts.
[00:15:16] Our Yes should be yes and our no should be no. And we should take it.
[00:15:21] At that. Then the next section here the Jeeves’s turns to the topic of retaliation. NASCAR’s Matthew chapter 5.
[00:15:34] Verses 38 through 42 where it says you have heard that it was said An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
[00:15:46] But I say to you you do not resist the one who is evil. But if any one slaps you on the right she turned to him the other also only if anyone would sue you take and take your tunic let him have your cloak as well and if any one forces you to go one mile go with him two miles and give to the one who bake for you and do not refuse the. Who would borrow from you. There is. One day a truck driver.
[00:16:17] Who stopped at a diner a truck stop and order dinner. Matter of fact he ordered steak and before he could eat it when he got served in walked a motorcycle gang. Dirty leather jackets long and hair and and they had looked at what this trucker just gotten on a plate and they walked over. And they started cutting up his stake. And they started a media. And they ate the whole steak. The driver said nothing he got up. He paid the bill walked out without saying a single word. One of the gang members says you know. That man couldn’t talk. He didn’t say a word. Another game here or what he couldn’t find either. He he didn’t lift a hand.
[00:17:08] And then a waiter who was standing there said you know I now can’t drive either on his way out of the parking lot he ran over six motorcycles. You know there’s something in us. That
[00:17:24] loves a story like that isn’t there. You know the story because see we like retribution don’t we. But the Jewish people had heard that it was said An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. And actually this law is found in Exodus 21 Leviticus 24 Deuteronomy 18. But there are two things to remember. About this. Number one first. However pre-scripted. Those laws were or might have been.
[00:18:00] It was also restrictive though it was an excellent tool at that time for eliminating bloody or blood feud tribal warfare.
[00:18:12] Let’s say let’s suppose someone cuts off my brother’s hand. And so I being his brother go and I knocked off his head. Immediately the violence is he cut off.
[00:18:33] A hand and I escalated the violence and taken off his head. And that’s exactly in talking about being restrictive what the laws were made for. So that the reprisal. Was the same kind. And to the same degree that’s why the eye for an eye. Not. A head for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. Not not cutting off someone’s hand because you knock their tooth out. It is restrictive. And that was the purpose of the laws back.
[00:19:14] And secondly it was given to the Jewish people as a nation. And you know it wasn’t designed it really wasn’t designed.
[00:19:23] To be carried on by individuals swept up in personal vendettas the Bible by the judiciary that and as I understand these verses and you know whenever you see verses like this you to take it in the context of what Jesus was talking about other things that Jesus said and from from that I don’t believe at all that he’s speaking of police officers soldiers. Scripture tells us that that God has given power to the state to to the country to the governing officials to prosecute and do what they need to do to get criminals who who kill and maim and enjoy wicked people who wait. To shed innocent blood. So so here it’s it’s not a personal vendetta. That wasn’t the purpose of these laws. And now they’re neat neat stories. Famous stories of transformed people. One of them was Tom Skinner. He he was a member leader actually he was the leader of the Harlem Lord’s again. And then he got converted. And after he now he was a tough hostile belligerent. Man. And then he got saved. And the Holy Spirit.
[00:21:01] Indwelt him the Spirit of Christ. And he started meekly accepting insults and blows.
[00:21:14] Because of his faith in Christ. You know the scripture talks about. Consider it blessed remember consider it blessed when we are persecuted for a while for righteousness sake. And he was being persecuted even taking blows from his ex gang members.
[00:21:38] Being persecuted for the sake of Christ. And when he just sat there and took blows it deeply impressed. Some of those other guys. Who came. To Christ to know Christ.
[00:21:55] And so there’s this attitude. It’s really important. And when violence and abuse comes about especially because of our stand for righteousness sake. The second example Jesus uses here concerns a lawsuit. It’s which a man is likely to lose his toonie now now to it was it was a long it was garment which kind of corresponds to our modern dress or wear a suit of clothes. And if he was sued for that Jesus says then you need to throw in your outer coat as well. Even though this outer cloak if you go to Exodus 22 and 26 or verse 26 and later it talks about how this Clow recognized by Jewish law it was an inalienable possession. This was important this outer cloak. OK. And now now it’s likely that someone is going to assume me for my sports jacket my clothes here. But but what at stake is it’s a principle here. OK it’s a principle that even those things which we regard as our rights by law. We must be prepared to abandon those rights.
[00:23:22] In another context Paul. He enlarges on this principle when he insists that followers of Jesus is that we should be preferred to be wronged rather than to enter litigation with another follower of Christ and other Christian taking him to court. This is what he said. First Corinthians 6:7 he says to have lawsuits at all. With one another is already a defeat for you.
[00:23:55] Why not rather suffer wrong. Why not rather be defrauded. So. We have.
[00:24:09] Special interest. I don’t know if I should say especially this. It would seem to be that those countries that give citizens the freedom as what the United States of America has in some other countries to vote for those we want to govern over us and to vote for what laws maybe that we want to to place ourselves under that. So. Quickly. We assume that we have this right. I have the right to this and I have the right to that. The third example Jesus uses here.
[00:24:55] Probably refers to the Roman practice of commandeering civilians. He says if someone forces you to go one mile go with him two miles. Now. Back then they just normal Roman soldier.
[00:25:13] Could that was passing through the area with his pack and everything he could grab a civilian. And the law then. The Roman law for the soldier is that you can commandeer any civilian and have them carry your pack and stuff for one mile. And of course not only were the Jews angered that they were under the suppression and own oppression of the Romans. Here you can be doing your work whatever they get here. Read my stuff follow me down the road. And you’d have to follow them down the road carrying a pack and stuff for a mile. And this is why you see this. This is a principle you know this is an attitude OK. He says if someone requires you. To go one mile.
[00:26:07] Then you go to. Now. This you know.
[00:26:13] OK but I’m not going to go one inch further than two miles. See that kind of blows the whole reason for this then it. The reason is not just a fact that testimony. For maybe the Roman soldier. But to deal with our attitudes our rights. We as as believers we are not to feel. Irritable. In these kind of cases personally insulted but here as this is weird a double the distance and the principle is this when you respond to something that’s commanded of you you do it with cheerfulness rather than resentment. I. Remember a man. Years ago. I was in Kansas City College or University and was part of their counseling team and a man we were counseling whose divorce was finalized. We went to court and the court. Demanded that he pay a certain amount of alimony and he was just fit to be tied and he was a believer and he wanted to deal with this correctly. And he would be he was fit to be tied.
[00:27:39] This is so unfair you know and he was angry and but he just couldn’t get over it. And we took him to this scripture. And he said what do you think. I should do let’s say he was commanded $300 a month. I don’t know what it was. And I told him I think he should give her more.
[00:28:03] And he said Whose side are you on.
[00:28:07] I said I’m not on anyone’s side you see you are dealing with this resentment this this bitterness of what the the legal system said you know and you’ve told me yourself that you are struggling with this. And I think. That for God to do a work in your heart and relieve you of this bitterness this resentment that if you go to God and say God I give this to you instead of 300 you’d give her three and a quarter refit whatever God lays on the heart. But out of your heart you give her more than I require because I believe that in doing so God will relieve you of that bitterness. Hatefullness.
[00:28:58] And he he did. He did that. And he came back to us he says. It’s amazing. I still really don’t like writing that check you know. But when I do write that check for more than I’m required I ask God to do something in my heart so every month at least one time in the month I’m reminded of the grace of God has given me.
[00:29:29] And how gracious I need to be to other people. Maybe in your workplace you have an overbearing.
[00:29:40] Boss. And they tell you they want to bring me a cup of coffee and you kind of resent that let me your servant. You know. Well. Maybe what we can do to help relieve us of this feeling. Is a half hour later knock on the door say you need a refill. Being a Christian disciple means living in a secular world. But with the radically radically different spirit means return good for evil respond to hate with love.
[00:30:20] The secular world. You are crazy to live that way. But a soft answer. Does turn away wrath. Forgiveness is better. Than vengeance. And love is a most powerful force on earth.
[00:30:39] And Jesus his last example here is the man’s giving and lending it is cheerful willingly.
[00:30:46] And the issue here is not because the Bible says a lot about finances and stuff and he’s not addressing the issue of the wisdom or foolishness of lending money to anyone but but but the burden of this passage is Christ in the same way that we can be legal listee about many things in our lives instead of the spirit of what Jesus is talking about here.
[00:31:13] We can be tightfisted in money pinchin and say well you know.
[00:31:18] No I’m not going to Lowney thing I’m not going to do this that because you know God says this and stuff. And again Jesus is addressing.
[00:31:29] Our attitudes our spirit.
[00:31:33] We may say well you know in looking at all of what we’re just talking about this morning.
[00:31:39] You know what Jesus is saying in these verses is that his followers we have no rights. We don’t have the right to retaliate and direct vengeance on somebody we do not have the right to their possessions to our possessions. You know I remember. Being told that. Everything I own is not mine. It’s God’s. And God has just loaned it to me for my use. And so if I buy a new car. And I park it out here far away back in the back of the parking lot in between the lines not taking up two parking places. OK. And someone pulls up next to me and bangs their door against my car and dents it. Well. I guess if God wants a dent his car God can dent his car right.
[00:32:43] Now. When you transfer the ownership of what you think you own to whom really owns it. Now. Now as good stewards Yes we take good care of what God has given us but it’s God’s and if God chooses to do what he wants with what he really owns.
[00:33:04] Then we let him do it. God owns it God owns everything.
[00:33:12] He owns me. Matter of fact Scripture says I am not even my own. Why. Because Scripture says I have been bought with the price. The price of the precious blood.
[00:33:29] Of the Lamb. Jesus Christ. So. I clearly missed the point here. If I. Would think even as Jesus was talking go the extra mile. Well if I have a fit bit I’m sitting here.
[00:33:48] OK that’s one mile that’s it. One extra mile. I’m not going to. We’re missing the point.
[00:33:54] Because God is addressing our spirit.
[00:33:59] But what did Jesus. What did Jesus say. He says I have provided an example for you to follow. And read the Gospels. How did Jesus respond. To
[00:34:19] those who persecuted him.
[00:34:24] Let me conclude. When we leave you with this thought. You know that germs cannot live in honey.
[00:34:35] Is too sweet when when my dad was in the hospital and had a very deep wound that was healing. They put these honey patches. I mean it was like quarter thick slabs of honey on this bandage and they would they would. Tape this to his foot. Because. Honey the sugar. In honey draws out the water. In the bacteria.
[00:35:05] Thus effectively killing the bacteria. Hams are cured with white though sometimes all but. Most of the time when you go into the store they’re cured with sugar.
[00:35:20] Jams and jellies can be canned. They can be kept. For long periods of time because when. They’re filled with sugar. Without the sweetness of sugar.
[00:35:33] These things would quickly become contaminated. The application. Most people believe.
[00:35:43] That the way to ward off their enemies is would be quick to retaliate to return evil for evil.
[00:35:52] But the Bible here suggests another approach rather than lash back. What we see here the scripture exhorts us to return good. For evil in the gospel of. St. Luke. It’s sweetness.
[00:36:10] Not bitterness that guards us being contaminated corrupted by this world. Proverbs 16:24 says this gracious words. Are a honeycomb sweet to the soul.
[00:36:28] And healing to the bones. Let’s pray. Lord we. Can hardly argue though. Many times we do argue with you. But the very thing is that Jesus is telling us here as he told the people there that day. On that mound.
[00:36:52] Everything you command us to do. Jesus has exemplified in his life. And there is a reason.
[00:37:01] Why you tell us to do this. And ultimately. If we do it. It is for our good. But more importantly. Is for your glory so Lord may we leave here today not just the portions of Scripture but but but all the whole of scripture when we read. What you tell us to do when we read how we are truly connected to the vine what our fruit will be.
[00:37:28] That you’ll be glorified. So Lord I pray that we be that child that obeys. And that you bless and we pray this in jesus name. Amen.