“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matthew 5:38-39, NKJV)
Is the path to peace laid through fear? Sometimes. It’s like disciplining a child. If a child can be helped to recognize there is a negative price to pay for a harmful action, he might refrain from negative actions. It’s a beginning for learning “you reap what you sow.” Yet too many reactions, parental and otherwise, are based on emotions and inaccurate information rather than based in truth. That’s why time is necessary to allow for a mature and appropriate response.
Fear as a preventive tactic does not eradicate the reason for disharmony or discontent. It’s like treating a symptom and not providing a cure. You have to keep generating fear to establish a forced peace…and thus, there can never be true peace.
Is the path to harmony found through a gun? Or a bomb? Or a drone?
Shock and awe? That one sure backfired. Terrorism has multiplied after that display of military power.
Yes, there’s evil in the world. No doubt. And it would be great to get rid of it. How do you do this?
First, let’s revisit what evil is when applied to this teaching from Jesus.
The clearest definition I’ve found comes from the Aramaic word Jesus probably used (bisa) and the Gospel writer replaced with the Greek word ponēros. And then English translators changed to evil. You tell me if you think they mean the same as your definition for evil.
Bisa means “unripe, not fit for its intended purpose, corrupt, not ready, out of rhythm, immature.”
Ponēros means “full of labors, annoyances, hardships; bringing toils, annoyances, perils.”
Evil = your definition________________________________________.
The Aramaic word points to the core reason for the actions that become harmful or annoying or laborious. Lack of development. Lack of maturity. Lack of focus on the reason for which it was created. And yet it also suggests a potential for improvement. What’s immature can become mature.
When I look at my tomatoes on the vine, I can easily see the unripe tomatoes. I don’t bother them. I can’t force them to become ripe simply by commanding them to ripen faster or I’ll cut them off. I have to make sure they get the water, nutrition, and sunlight they need to mature into the good fruit they were created to be.
The potential is there. And I have to see that potential before I will do what I need to do to allow the natural course of events to occur so the tomato can develop and become a mature fruit, suited for the purpose for which it was created.
If someone slaps me, there will be a price to pay. “For whatsoever you sow, that’s what you’ll reap.” But it’s not up to me to become the Grim Punisher. Maybe the slap was part of my reaping what I sowed earlier. The laws of the Universe will take a more appropriate and fairer toll than I could mete out.
It takes a stronger person to restrain their emotions and reactions than to react improperly in an attempt to repay an evil, immature, undeveloped person with the same harm he/she perpetrated.
Do not resist immature, unripe, undeveloped people. Jesus is the model. Repaying evil with evil only proves your own level of development and leads to a never-ending cycle of immaturity, unripeness, and undeveloped actions. Instead, try to discover what it takes to help the undeveloped one reach his or her potential for goodness.
Then everyone can live together in peace.