God’s expectation for His family is plainly set forth in Romans 12:21—”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
In the ongoing war between good and evil there are no ties. Retaliation when wronged causes evil to be victoriously perpetuated, not defeated.
How practical, then, are Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:39-42—”But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”
Overcome evil with good…
- When you are insulted, humiliated, or disrespected (v. 39). A slap in the face—whether physically or verbally done—is most offensive and hurtful. Overcome it by refusing to retaliate. When Jesus was reviled, He did not revile in return (1 Peter 2:23). He practiced what He preached.
- When threatened legally (v. 40). A lawsuit is never pleasant. The best way to avoid one is to seek reconciliation through generosity. This is what Isaac did, and it worked (Genesis 26:17-22).
- When an oppressive government curtails personal liberties (v. 41). A Roman soldier could compel any Jew into carrying his personal baggage for one mile—an irksome reminder of Rome’s conquest of Palestine in 63 B.C. To avoid personal bitterness and rancor, cheerful and willing submission which exceeds the letter of the law blunts the intended sting of a demeaning ordinance.
- When another is in need (v. 42). Asking for and receiving needed help ought not be demeaning for one who is destitute. Genuine, gracious, generous benevolence is the best way to eliminate the evils of abject need.
Defeating evil with good is challenging, but it is not impossible.