Give just a little more

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, don’t fight back against someone who wants to do harm to you. If they hit you on the right cheek, let them hit the other cheek too. If anyone wants to sue you in court and take your shirt, let them have your coat too. If a soldier forces you to walk with him one mile, go with him two. Give to anyone who asks you for something. Don’t refuse to give to anyone who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. (Matthew 5:38-44)

There aren't too many of us who haven't heard the teaching of "turning the other cheek" whenever someone wrongs you - like we needed to actually be hit twice! Yet, in the breadth of this teaching, Jesus is really laying out the path he will walk during the next several years of his teaching ministry - continually allowing the criticism, forgiving the hateful words of others, and refusing to strike back when deliberately opposed by those who would seek to shut down his ministry on this earth. In the Old Testament, if a man killed your donkey, he was to restore it and something extra in return. In making restoration of the one thing which was lost, he was also to make some type of restitution for the lost item. Steal from someone and you had to not only repay what you stole, but a portion more. Maybe God was trying to help us see the connection between sin and that there was always a cost associated with sin. Or maybe he was just trying to help us see the distress sin brings into our lives. It doesn't really matter why he established those rules in the Old Testament, because Jesus was about to blow the minds of those listening to his sermon when he tells them they should turn the other cheek, give a coat to one who steals their shirt, and hate their enemies! A totally radical thought for a generation who had grown up under the Law! 

The first lesson we can learn from this teaching: Give more than you are asked to give. Most of us understand what it is to have some kind of "debt" we might owe to someone. When we go to the grocer, we fill up our baskets and then head to the checkout.  At the checkout, a bill is produced for all of the items in the cart. This becomes a debt we must pay if we are to remove these groceries from the store. Until the debt is settled, we are not free to roll that cart out to the car and make our way home with those delectable treats. We understand that we have to pay for what we put in the basket, but how many of us actually would think to give the grocer another ten dollars at the end of the transaction, just because we wanted to give something to recompense the grocer for the debt we incurred? I daresay we'd point out if we were over-charged by the clerk or the dispenser didn't give us the right change, but would we actually leave more than what we owed? If we are to live out this principle, then we have to begin to ask what it is we do that is just a little more than what we are asked to do. It may not be much, but if we always just go through life giving exactly what we are asked to give and never anything other than what is asked, we will live kind of empty lives. Learning to bless another is to be a way of life for us. We need to see the "value" in giving sacrificially - not just when something is demanded of us. Just sayin!


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