Revenge

Posted by Jim Murphy on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 @ 6:45 PM

You’ll live brighter when let go of revenge.

Matthew 5:38-42

Eye for an Eye? No, Let it Go!

Originally given at Exodus 21:23-24, Leviticus 24:20, and Deuteronomy 19:21, this law was meant to do two things: 1) Get excessive acts of revenge (like killing a guy just because he stole your goat) under control. Instead, the punishment should always fit the crime. 2) Empower Judges (not you personally) with the authority to impose these punishments. These laws were simply explaining what the punishments for the crimes would be. They were not giving people the right to personally go out and cut a guy’s eye out on their own. This was the job of the Judge.
Jesus is going beyond this teaching about revenge and challenging us to not seek revenge at all, even an eye for an eye. He’s challenging us to deny ourselves and just let it go!

Four Ways to Let Go of Revenge

  1. Personal Honor: A slap on the right cheek was an insult. When we are insulted, we are not to retaliate. Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” Your light will shine bright when you turn the other cheek.
  2. Personal Possessions: Being sued for your tunic was like being taken for everything you’ve got all the way down to your underwear. When someone takes your most cherished possessions, don’t retaliate. Give them the rest. Think Jean Valjean and Les Miserable. Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” Your light will shine bright when you hold your possessions lightly.
  3. Personal Rights: Roman soldiers could by law force Jews to carry their baggage for up to one mile. That’s racist! That’s a violation of human rights! Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” Your light will shine bright when you go the extra mile.
  4. Personal Generosity: There are always those among us who are poor. Some are victims. Others are lazy. We are to make no distinction between the two. Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” Your light will shine bright when you give to anyone who asks of you.

    Ultimately, Jesus is not talking about blows on cheeks, or losing a tunic, or carrying baggage, or giving to panhandlers in these verses. He’s talking about dying to our selves (Matthew 16:24)

Small Group Questions

Talk about the different ways we lie to each other, to our parents, to our teachers, etc. Have the kids share examples of each.

  1. In what ways do you see people getting revenge on each other when they are
    a) insulted, b) sued, robbed, or gipped, c) oppressed, d) asked for money?
  2. Talk through each example above and share real-life ways we can live out Jesus’ teachings.

Conversations at Home

Again, as with most other issues, kids and teens pick up what is modeled by the parent. How do you respond when someone (including your teen) insults you? Damages your posessions? Infringes on your personal rights or convenience (like the right of way when driving or the right to be next in line, etc.)? Asks you for help? Do you tend to retaliate? Do you tend to yell or overreact? Are you generous with your money and possessions?

Teens are most impressed/influenced by actions, not lectures. When you've been insulted by your teen, don't overreact. Stay patient and on subject. Then come back later when emotions have cooled down and let them know how the insult felt to you. Try to anticipate moments when your teen may feel like their personal honor is insulted, their personal possessions are at risk, their personal rights might be infringed upon, or someone may ask them for help. Ask them how they might respond when that happens. Thinking ahead and having a planned response is the best way to not give in to the temptation to retaliate.

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These posts are from the weekly lessons at Wednesday night FUEL. They are designed to share with you an outline of the content of our discussions, the small group questions, and ideas for conversations at home. Feel free to use these for your own conversations or lessons.

Jim Murphy

Jim Murphy, Associate Pastor, NextGen MinistriesAssociate Pastor NextGen Ministries

218-751-3699 ext 14 jim@bemidjicovenant.com

 

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