Matthew 5:38-42 (NLT)
38 �You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: �An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.� 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don�t turn away from those who want to borrow.
In these verses Jesus basically repeals an individual�s law of retaliation. The Mosaic Law stated retaliation could take place equal to an offence, but no greater than the offence itself. There wasn�t a government in control, nor were there rulers or kings for the people; instead there were only leaders. So they needed a basis set of rules to guide them in their individual actions. The law stated if a man killed another man the family had the right to put the offender to death. If a person was hurt the wounded person could respond in the same manner back to the person who hurt them. It was a simple set of rules to help individuals understand how they could respond to sin. In the verses above Jesus tells us that as an individual we should go the extra mile, literally, when we are hurt or imposed upon. Roman Soldiers could demand a person to carry their armor for a mile. Jesus said if they demand you carry it a mile, carry it two.
The other day I saw a sign painted on a 4x8 piece of plywood and posted next to the road in front of a home. The sign read something like this: TO THE PERSON WHO BROKE INTO OUR HOME AND STOLE FROM US, NEXT TIME PLEASE RING THE DOOR BELL. WE DON�T MIND HELPING THE NEEDY, BUT WE DON�T LIKE HAVING OUR THINGS STOLEN.� No one really enjoys being inflicted with unhappiness, disappointment, pain and suffering by the hands of another. God established governments and allowed them to put laws into effect to restrain the sinful behavior of people. In America, government is established for the people and by the people. Many of the laws reflect the balanced beliefs of the people. There are some who are not happy with some laws and there are some who are not happy because there isn�t a law or punishment. Our government was designed so laws take time to be put in place and they are reviewed, debated and voted upon by those representing the people. We as individuals should follow what Jesus said and extend every courtesy we can to people. It is not our responsibility to retaliate, but the government which is there to protect and assign consequences for individuals. It is not our responsibility as an individual to enact our own consequences, but instead to love others as Jesus would have loved them. I was very mindful of this last night as Troy Davis was being executed. We the people should not have an individual desire to rejoice in the death of person, nor should we let bitterness rule our heart. We can however trust in God that He has put in place our government to administer the law in a just and fair manner even when it might seem unfair. Love like Christ and maybe we can change the hearts of some before they ever take things too far.