Do not resist an evildoer. That’s a hard thing to do. It goes against human nature. And that’s why following Jesus is so difficult. This is how he said it:
“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.” Matt. 5:38–42
I wrote a blog about a specific text, John 20:19-23, in which Jesus was teaching his disciples how they should respond to his crucifixion – retaliation is never the right answer in dealing with evil.
Jesus wasn’t the first person to teach that wisdom is applied when you respond to evil with good. Many faith traditions have taught variations of this same concept.
Yet just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s okay to ignore it. Here are some wisdom sayings agree with Jesus’s philosophy.
One can only overcome anger with kindness. One can only conquer evil with good… One can only win the miser by generosity… One can only convince the liar with truth…Dhammapada 223—Buddhism
Hate is not conquered by hate: hate is conquered by love. This is a law eternal. Dhammapada 5—Buddhism
Return love for hate. Tao Te Ching 63—Taoism
It is the determination of the spotless not to do evil, even in return, to those who have cherished enmity and done them evil. Tirukkural 312—Hinduism
Of what gain is perfect goodness if it does not do good to all, even to those who have done painful things to others. Tirukkural 987—Hinduism
If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink. Proverbs 25:21—Judaism
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Luke 6:27–28—Jesus, Christianity
Goodness and evil can never be equal. Repel evil with what is better (or best). Then see: the one between whom and you there was enmity has become a bosom friend. Qur’an 41.34—Islam
If there is cause to hate someone, the cause to love has just begun. Wolof proverb (Senegal) African Traditional Religions
See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. 1 Thess. 5:15—Paul, Christianity
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21—Paul, Christianity
The world would be a better place if those who profess belief in a religion would follow the wisdom that leads to unity instead of retaliating for evil that has been done.