Eye For An Eye
Recently I read the following post by my friend Darrell Pruitt: After 4 decades of following the Lord, reading & studying the Scriptures, and desiring to be more like Jesus, I have come to this conclusion: Above and beyond everything else — everything else! — the Christian life is about how we treat people.1
That’s a good observation. The instructions our Heavenly Father has given us are centered on how we treat Him, each other, our enemies, the poor, helpless, sick, aging and dying. How we treat Him is focused on loving, obeying and following Him.
And if we love, obey, and follow our Heavenly Father, we will be engaged with family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and even enemies. We may not always like others, but we can still love them. We may not always agree with others, but we can still show them respect.
Eye for an Eye does not bring peace.
With such clear marching orders, we can learn a lot about how we are to act from seeing what others do around the world. For example, look at the Middle East. Many who live there fiercely hold on to the Principle of Reciprocal Justice, more commonly known as Eye For An Eye.
From the time they were born, they were taught to embrace this method of meting out justice and punishment. “Whatever you have done to me, my family, or my people will be done to you, and far worse.” As history has shown time and again, these are not empty threats.
But this is not about justice. Born from emotion, this is about revenge that is never satisfied. With each retaliation, compassion fades, hatred grows, and peace is neither possible among the people nor desired by their leaders. This has been the way of the world for much of its existence.
And for us, it has now come to an end.
Then Jesus turned everything upside down. You’ve heard Eye for an Eye, but I tell you… 2 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Do not take revenge, for vengeance belongs to the Lord. If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 3
Short and simple, Jesus was telling His followers…then and today…For you, Eye for an Eye has ended. But you may be thinking, “This doesn’t apply to me. I’m not in a war or trying to kill anyone.” Ah, but do you hold a grudge? Are you still angry for a wrong done to you? Have you not forgiven someone?
The Christian life really is about how we treat people, whether friend or foe. This Thanksgiving, take time to thank your Heavenly Father for not holding a grudge against you but instead forgiving you for every time you failed to follow Him. And pray He will give you strength to follow Him…now.
Chuck Graham is Founder and Executive Director of Ciloa, an international ministry devoted to encouraging others and teaching them how to encourage one another. He is also an author and speaker. Chuck and his wife, Beverly, live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. Learn more about Chuck and Ciloa at www.Ciloa.org.
Footnotes: (1) For 30 years Darrell Pruitt served in the ministry of Calvary Chapel Church as Elder, Bible college teacher, Assistant Pastor, and Senior Pastor. Today God has taken him from the church setting to a broader service—ministering each day to those God brings his way. (2) Read Matthew 5:38-42. (3) Romans 12:9-21.
Pictures: Banner: An Eye, photo by ESB Professional, Shutterstock. (1) And All Will Know, image from “Love as I have loved you” by Julia Bruce, 6-3-2019, WellspringChristianMinistries.org. (2) Don’t Take Revenge, image created by ScriptureImages.com. (3) Overcome Evil with Good, Image by QuotesGram.com.