So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 NIV
The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers. I Corinthians 6:7-8 NIV
The Corinthian church displayed its immaturity by various members taking each other to court. Paul expresses frustration with them, and says, “you have been completely defeated already,” I Corinthians 6:7. Some Corinthian church members are behaving like they are young children, disputing over whose toys were who’s in the sandbox. It is a natural human reaction to want to retaliate against someone who has wronged us, hurt us, or offended us. But Paul is trying to change the Corinthian church members’ thinking. He wanted them (and us) to live out the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus – in how we treat those who are our enemies or those who offend us.
Matthew 5:38-48 and Luke 6:27-36 record Jesus’ teaching on how we are to treat other people who we may view as our enemies. Retaliation has no part in Jesus’ teaching on this subject. The principle I see in these passages is “generosity”. Jesus encourages us to freely loan to others, to offer more than was asked for, and to bless and pray for those we may see as our enemies. Jesus calls us to be merciful as God has been merciful to us – to be willing to forgive and not to retaliate – as God has forgiven us.
Sometimes I find these teachings difficult to actually carry out. How about you? I do think we Christians cannot actually do this in our own strength, because if we relied on our own strength, we would be just like the Corinthians, fighting over who took what toy in the sandbox. But God has called us out of the sandbox; he has called us to maturity, to grow, to become more like His son Jesus in our ability to love other people. Paul said, “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” I Corinthians 6:7b. The Corinthians were insisting on their rights and on being right, instead of being willing to forgive, to extend mercy, to turn the other cheek.
The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:6-7 presents many of Jesus’ teachings on how we as Christians are to treat each other in the Kingdom of God. Take some time this week to read through the Sermon on the mount in one sitting. Notice which part seems impossible to you. Pray about that. Ask for insight, ask for direction, and sit at Jesus’ feet and listen.