Good for Evil
by L.A. Stauffer
Most Bible students are familiar with Jesus’ teaching to “turn the other cheek.” In the Sermon on the Mount he referred to the Jewish practice of exacting an “eye for an eye” and a “tooth for a tooth” and then taught his disciples that if a man “smiteth thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Mt. 5:39).
At first this seems to be a “hard saying”-- one that is difficult to accept and practice. And it is. But as the years go on -- maybe its age, physical weakness, or my natural tendancy to be cowardly -- I have found this command less demanding. I seldom build up feelings of retaliation. Where I struggle is the next level to which both Peter and Paul take this instruction.
Paul taught the brethren at Rome to “render to no man evil for evil” and then said “if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink … be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good”(Rom. 12:17,20,21). Peter says essentially the same thing and then tells brethren to render a “blessing” to those who mistreat them (1 Pet. 3:9).
What both apostles tell us is that the love of Christ demands that we act with positive good will toward our enemies. I would be fine if I could pray for them, as Jesus also taught (Mt. 5:44), and then ignore them. I have found this to be true in many situations in the church and even in family life. I seldom feel the need to get even, but it is a real temptation to sulk, become moody, and treat brethren and family members with indifference.
How many times I have done this, how many times I have preached to myself about it, how many times I have taken days, weeks, and even months to get back to a normal relationship with the persons involved. We should really pity folks who are petty and who wrong us, we should leave them to the Lord for judgment, and we should seek to show them goodness -- manifesting to them a benevolent and kind spirit. How well I know this, but how pitifully I practice it.
May God help me and all of us to love and do good at all times.