what is your reward?

19 Feb

170219“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 an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:38-48, NRSV)

This is a loaded text with a lot we do not see on the surface.

Jesus continues His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount telling His disciples to look out for the least of these.

You have heard it said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” We hear this and think justice, an eye for an eye. And that is why it was written in the Old Testament, for justice, so if I took your eye you could not seek more than that. It was for equal response to what was done. But Jesus said not to seek an eye for an eye, but if someone strike you on the right cheek, turn the left. This may sound like Jesus is saying be a door mat and let people abuse you and walk all over you. But my understanding of this verse is not that. When someone in Jesus day would strike someone of a lower status they would hit them on the left cheek with the inside of their right hand, and when you turn the other cheek, that would be the right check, in order for that person to strike you again they would use the back of their right hand (no one would strike with their left hand, just didn’t happen) and that signified that you are of equal status. So it is not saying be a door mat, it is saying in the eyes of God we are equal.

And go the extra mile, every person was required by Roman Law to carry the bag of a Roman soldier 1 mile. So if requested to carry, do not do the minimum, but go twice as far.

And it is easy for us to love those who love us because everyone does that, but Jesus calls us to be better than, or more Godly than the rest. So we need to love those who hate us, and we need to greet everyone. Because if we do what everyone does, what is our reward? But if we love everyone, we will show everyone the love of God, and that is the best reward there is.


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