A New Standard of Agape Love: Matthew 5:38-42
““38) You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39) But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40) And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41) Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42) Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew‬ ‭5:38-42‬ ‭
Jesus now moves the standard from the letter of the Law to relationships based on Agape love. The Law makes provision for anger, wrath, revenge and self centeredness. It puts self and things above the value of other people.
Jesus moved the standard from “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” to loving your enemies and caring for your adversaries. Agape love sees all people as part of the mission field and worthy of dignity, respect and the gospel.
Roman soldiers could force any civilian to carry their gear for one mile. Going the first mile fulfilled the obligation. Going the second mile fostered a friendship. Jesus wants Christians to go the extra mile with forgiveness and serving others. This is what sets us apart from the world.
I remember listening to a message by Billy Graham when I was a new Christian. He compared different world philosophies. He said; “Communism says: what’s your is mine and I will take it! Capitalism says: what’s mine is mine and I will keep it! But Christianity says: what’s mine is yours and I will share it!”
At the time I was in high school and on a Bible quizzing team. We were studying the book of Matthew. The Holy Spirit used that small comparison like a lightening bolt to help me capture the significance of the above five verses.
Agape love and forgiveness are the fuel that powers the gospel. These are what distinguishes Christianity from every other world religion and world view. These are what makes the salt tasty and turns the lights on among true believers. (Refer back to Matthew 5:13-16)
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global