Do Not Resist an Evildoer


       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 5Buddhism

Return love for hate. Tao Te Ching 63Taoism

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 987Hinduism

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 41.34Islam

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.


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2 Responses to Do Not Resist an Evildoer

  1. John J Flanagan says:

    In the verses noted, context is important. Jesus refers to evil from government persecution, or similar acts because of one’s faith. However, the idea of a just defensive war is also part of biblical truth, and the idea of defending oneself and one’s loved ones from a psychotic evil sociopath who intends to torture, main, rape or harm your wife, child, or neighbor demands you react. It is easy to be academic about responding to such evil, but if the real thing happens in YOUR life, and you or your family is in danger, you will do what you must do.

  2. admin says:

    I don’t see how you suggest Jesus limited his comment to government persecution or faith issues. He didn’t limit non-resistance when he taught it in the Sermon on the Mount, nor did Paul. Can you show me anywhere in the New Testament where a “just” war is defended? Jesus wasn’t being academic either. He knew what was coming. He allowed it to happen and he discouraged a violent response – not a just one. I hope if the time comes when evil is perpetrated on me, I’ll do the right thing. Yet if my loved ones have evil being done to them, without hesitation I will do what I must to protect them from immediate harm.

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