Retaliation • Devotion 1

Retaliatory Aggression
Joe Wilson

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” Matthew 5:38-42 (KJV)

Retaliation by definition means, “to return like for like” or “to repay in kind.” I must admit that I have struggled with this as a common response to adversity for much of my life. I learned from a young age to not show weakness and can remember my Dad telling me, “You better not start the fight,” which is good advice, right? However, it was then immediately followed with, “But, you better finish it.” As I became an adult, I continued with the same “Modus Operandi.” Thus my anger grew and grew, along with my aggressive response to situations where I thought someone was attacking me or someone I cared about. It was not until I had gotten out of the military and became extremely prone to aggressive anger that, in fact, I realized that I was not helping anyone, but in actuality scaring them.

My response to adversity as stated above is in direct contradiction to how Jesus teaches us. Matthew 5:39 (KJV) states, “But whosoever shall smite [strike] thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Man’s natural reaction would be to strike back (or at least mine would), but Jesus is calling us to take the higher road. Romans 12:21 (KJV) tells us, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Jesus provides us with the ultimate example of this type of response to adversity which far outweighs any adversity I have faced in my life.

I believe my aggressive retaliation is actually an issue of pride and not trusting God! Scripture tells us in Romans 12:19 (KJV), “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” God has me; “He’s got my six!” If I feel the need to retaliate with aggression, what am I actually saying? I am saying that I am stronger and more equipped than God to handle whatever adversity is in front of me. How foolish am I?

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 (KJV)

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