Have you ever heard this phrase: “Don’t get mad; get even.”? As harsh or hilarious as it may sound, some people live by this statement. If you say something about them, they’ll say something worse about you. If you hit them, they’ll make sure they hit you harder. They’ll do whatever it takes to make sure they have the last laugh.
In this text, however, Jesus discourages retaliation. Why would He do that? Aren’t we justified when we defend ourselves?
First, retaliation is not in our job description. Our assignment on earth is to love God and His people (see Matthew 22:37-39). When we retaliate, we overstep our bounds, for God said, I will take revenge; I will pay them back” (Romans 12:19, New Living Translation). Second, every action is a down-payment on a forthcoming action. Paul said it like this, “You will always harvest what you plant” (Galatians 6:7, New Living Translation). Retaliation doesn’t resolve issues; it just keeps the cycle going.
Long story short, Jesus advises us to love, unconditionally. When people talk about you, praise them. When people hit you, hug them. Remember, you reap what you sow, so why not sow love.