Week 4 – Retaliation
Read Matthew 5:38-42 and your notes from Sunday morning’s sermon.
Jesus moves on to teach us now about retaliation. He uses several examples, but the overarching theme here is that we should not be out for revenge or retaliation against those who may have wronged us. Even though revenge may seem like the only fair solution, Jesus tells us the better way is to be ready for even more persecution. Returning violence for violence or offense for offense does not stop the violence from happening.
The last example looks a little bit different and comes in verse 42 when He says: “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” This one isn’t at all about getting revenge. Jesus is building on the idea that when we follow Him, He wants us to follow this simple principle. Do not return to people only what they deserve. Each example comes back to that same principle over and over. This is a reflection of the way He gives us what we do not deserve. We extend mercy and grace to others as He extends the same to us.
- Think about a time when you got revenge. How did it make you feel? Share with the group.
- Have you ever chosen not to be generous to someone because they did not deserve it?
- Read the following quote from Leon Morris referencing the scripture we are studying today. Talk about how these ideas differ from our culture. “We must not think that he held that his followers should never right wrongs, for example, nor that he felt that they must give to every beggar who approaches them. Were this so, all Christians would live under tyranny and in a state of destitution. But the principles that we are to refrain from asserting our rights and that we should put the needs of others before our own run through all of life and mark the difference between the servant of God and the worldling.”
Feel free to discuss or ask additional questions as they arise
Spiritual Practice: We are still practicing the spiritual discipline of Service. Last week we talked about engaging in acts of service that are hidden in order to foster humility. This week let’s look at service from the other side of things. What should it look like when we are served by others? Should we allow others to serve us, or should we always be the ones doing the serving? Let’s go back to the story of Jesus washing his disciple’s feet that we studied during our very first week of practicing the discipline of Service. Remember that at first, Peter refused to let Jesus wash his feet. Peter was not practicing humility here, but rather, pride. Have you ever felt embarrassed at the thought of asking for help or allowing someone else to serve you? That is simply our own pride getting in the way. We should never let pride stop us from allowing others to practice service. We should accept the service that others offer to us without even feeling the need to repay them. This week allow someone else to serve you if the opportunity arises. It may be an offer to get you a coffee, buy lunch, help you carry groceries, or any other task, large or small, that would be of service to you. Practice accepting that service graciously!
Closing verse: James 4:10 – Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.