Verse: Matthew 5:40-42
40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

This is a pretty complicated part of the Sermon on the Mount. The first example is a Jewish issue where someone (it seems) is unjustly suing someone. The second is a Roman issue where a Roman soldier could make you carry his equipment for a mile. Read at face value, it can feel like Jesus is telling Christians to be doormats. To let injustice be done to us. To not stand up for what is right.

Obviously, there is a lot to unpack here, and more than we can do in a short devotional. But one piece I think we can take away is that Jesus is NOT telling us to be doormats. But he is teaching us a new way to resist evil. The Bible Project’s episode on this passage talks about “Creative Non Violence” as a way that Jesus is teaching his followers to resist evil. The verse that comes to mind for me is Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

It is human nature to want to fight back. To argue. To yell. To defend ourselves. But how often do we see in the world that when people fight back things escalate and get worse? How often do we see when people fight back that they end up doing the same evil back to someone that was done to them? This is the cycle of sin—evil begets evil begets evil—that Jesus is trying to stop. You can’t stop evil with more evil. If you do, eventually you will be overcome by it. The only way to resist evil, is with good.

This is not an easy teaching, but it is one that is so incredibly relevant in our day. Let’s pray that God begins to show us more ways to apply this in our lives, and in our world!

Author: Christian Dunn