Retaliation • Devotion 6

Unwritten Rules
Philip Piasecki

Baseball is one of my favorite sports. There is just something special about getting down to the ballpark on a warm spring day to watch a game. One of the interesting things about baseball is the “unwritten rules” of the game. There are all these things that are not actually rules but are expectations for teams and players to follow. One common “rule” is how you are supposed to act after hitting a home run. You are expected to put your head down and run the bases. However, in today’s game, the players want to have some fun and celebrate their amazing feats more and more. What better time to have some fun than after hitting a 400-foot bomb into the stands, right? Unfortunately, many pitchers disagree with this approach, and most of the time it leads to retaliation. Most likely the next time that batter comes up to hit, he is going to get hit by a 99 mph fastball. This is then going to lead to the other team retaliating and hitting one of their batters, which then sometimes leads to the other team retaliating and running out onto the field to fight. It seems like a never-ending cycle of retaliation.

We laugh at this, but sometimes in our life, we fall into this exact same cycle. Matthew chapter 5 has some powerful things to teach us on the subject of retaliation.

Matthew 5:38-42 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

It seems like even back in the Bible times there was a message from the world to “get even.” They take an eye, you take an eye and call it good. I can see two guys right now both missing an eye shaking hands and calling it even. We know that is not really ever how a situation resolves itself. Normally it continues to escalate until someone decides to be the bigger person, forgive, and let it go. That can be so difficult for us in that situation. It is not easy to let ourselves be wronged and forgive and move on.

The crazy thing is, this Scripture actually tells us to go one step further. If we get slapped, we are not commanded to just forgive and move on; we are commanded to turn our other cheek and let them hit us again. Now we are talking about something radical. Now we are talking about something countercultural. When someone hurts you, are you willing to still pray for that person? When someone hates you, are you willing to praise that person? Personally, it is easy for me to forgive someone and forget about that person. I can easily move on and not think about that person anymore. It is not easy for me to constantly be in prayer for that person. It would be tough for me to help that person out when they were in their time of need. However, that is what this Scripture is calling us to do.

We know the Lord is in control. We know those that sin and do evil will have their judgment from the Lord. We are called to retaliate with even more kindness. What do we do to the Lord every day? We sin against Him daily, yet He turns the other cheek. It is our call as believers to show others the incredible love and forgiveness of Christ that He has so generously given to us. We have to be willing to give that as well when we are faced with these situations. Possibly by showing this kindness, we will see those around us come to know and understand the incredible love of Christ.

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