To overcome evil with goodness is one of the hardest tasks that many Christians of today can do. But overcoming evil with goodness is also a hallmark of the true Christian.
In today’s gospel of Matthew 5:38-43, Jesus continues to interpret the commandments. In His words Jesus says :
‘You have known how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for a tooth. But I say this to you: offer no resistance to the wicked man. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if someone wishes to go to law with you to get your tunic, let him have your cloak as well and if anyone orders you to go one mile with him, go two miles, give to anyone who asks of you and if anyone wants to borrow do not turn away”
If you quietly read this gospel, one begins to ask, how easy can this be? These instructions seem to be very difficult to do.
Some of the Instructions that look very impossible to do are :1. Jesus says “offer no resistance to the wicked. On the contrary if anyone hits you on the right cheek, turn the other cheek for Him”.
The Greek lexicon says umin me antistenai to ponero. This, in simple terms, means “do not resist an evil person”. or do not fight an evil person. But if he slaps you on the right cheek, just turn the other cheek for Him.
2. The Second instruction is “if someone wishes to go to law with you to get your tunic, let him have your cloak as well”. In the Jewish communities people wear cloaks as a mark of identity.
In 1 Samuel 24:6, David cut off the border of King Saul’s cloak. Also, in Mark 10:46-52, Bartimaeus threw away His beggar’s cloak when He ran to meet Jesus.
The King and the beggar’s cloak were marks who they are. When people see you on your cloak regalia, they will immediately identify who you are; a king, scribe, beggar,pharisee, sadducee etc.
So, giving someone your cloak when he wants to take your tunic, is like giving someone your mark of identity, when he only wants to take your cloth.
In practical terms, it is like giving someone all your inheritance when he wants to acquire just one thing that belongs to you.
When we look at these instructions, one can conclude that to do exactly what Jesus is saying is practically impossible.
One may ask “Will I just keep quiet and allow myself to be trampled upon? These kinds of questions and more may arise.
The main point of today’s gospel is that Jesus wants His disciples to overcome evil with goodness. Jesus’ intention is summarized with this statement “do not oppose evil with evil”. Christianity would have been the best way of life if every person can keep to the laws.
The earth would have been another heaven if people can keep all that Jesus says. It would have been a place where we live in love, peace, unity, without hatred, war, wickedness etc. but today, the difference is the case.
Do not Oppose Evil with Evil but Overcome with Goodness.
A Christian does not oppose evil with more evil. A Christian fights his/her battle with the weapon of love and peace.
1. There are times when people might push you hard and inflict pains on you, the only alternative is to revenge and show them how strong you are but Jesus tells His followers not to oppose evil with evil rather overcome evil with goodness.
2. There are moments when people will slander your name, maim you at the back and destroy your name. Sometimes they even come and laugh with you but hid their true intention, they might even go on to destroy your image, the only alternative to this may be to revenge and talk back. But Jesus tells us “do not oppose evil with evil”, rather overcome evil with goodness.
3. Sometimes when someone wrongs us, we focus our thoughts on how to punish him/her that wrongs us. We want the person to pay for what he/she has done. We are consumed in revenge.
Always know that Evil begets evil. But good also begets good. Therefore overcome evil with goodness.
4. This does not mean you cannot speak and save your image. This does not mean you have to keep quiet. It does not mean allowing evil to take its victory, but that we do not resist them with another evil means.
This means giving over all your battle to God. This means living without grudges to anyone. For Revenge is of the Lord ( Romans 12:19).
Overcome Evil with Goodness is our Hallmark.
The readings of 1 Samuel 24 and chapter 26, where David spared the life of Saul, while he got the opportunity to take his pound of flesh and further left the battle in God’s hands and the Gospel reading of Luke 6:27-38 where Jesus teaches his disciples to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly and do good to those who hate them is a pointer to what God demands from His children.
If we follow these teachings of Jesus from our human inclinations, one can see that it is so difficult to take. Hence, what we can discover from this teaching is that anybody can return evil for evil but God wants His children to live like Him.
God wants his children to live only with love, and to overcome evil with God. Love is a very powerful spiritual principle.
You may have people in your life who have done you wrong and you have a right to be angry and bitter. You may feel as though your whole life has been stolen away by somebody who has mistreated you or deceived you, but if you will choose to let go of your grudge and forgive them you can overcome the evil with good.
God sincerely rewards good acts like that. God takes up battles when you place them in His hands. When you make your battle, God’s battle, He will sincerely take it up. Take time and read 2 Chronicles 20.
If anybody had a right to return evil for evil, it was David and Joseph. But they overcome evil with Goodness.
Jesus never cursed his persecutors but prayed for them. I have sincerely discovered that when you put a battle in God’s hands, He will surely make it up to you but when you take a battle on your own, it may eventually end in more crises. Always be good to people.
1 Peter 3: 9 says “do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this, God calls you, so that you may inherit a blessing.
Then as you give out the blessing, the blessing returns to you. It is a great sacrifice with reward. This righteousness that Jesus fulfills and provides for us is rooted in His overflowing grace and love. Our actions should be motivated by the love we have for God and not by man.
May God bless you dearest and give us the grace to forgive our offenders. May He never allow you to be defeated amen.