Turn the other cheek.  Did he say, ‘turn the other cheek’?  That was just crazy. What would that accomplish?

From the sound of the crowd it was plain I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. 

“Listen to me.” Jesus raised his hands to get people’s attention.  “The law that said, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ was given to limit revenge, but now it’s being used to justify revenge.  There is a better way.

We all know that we are supposed to love our neighbor, at least we are taught in the law to love our neighbor. 

Loving those who love is easy, even the Romans do that, but what would happen if we loved our enemy as well?  If we treated people with respect, regardless of how they treated us?  If we turned the other cheek, went the extra mile and gave people the shirt off our backs, what would that look like?”

Jesus stopped and looked around at the crowd.  “Loving people goes beyond liking them, it means treating them with respect and kindness.  You need to treat other people the same way you’d want them to treat you.”

The law starts with the basics, and it’s great to start there, but if we want to be a part of God’s Kingdom, we can’t stop there.

The law says we shouldn’t kill each other, that’s good.  But what would happen if we went a step further and didn’t even hate each other?  Because murder begins with hate.  When you lose your temper, when you call someone an idiot and ask God to damn them, you are starting down a dangerous path.

You don’t want others to hate you, so don’t hate them. 

The law tells us to not commit adultery.  People need to hear that when you cheat on your husband or wife, you are tearing your family apart.  Adultery may end in the act itself, but that isn’t where it begins.  It begins when you look at someone and imagine them in a place that should be reserved for your spouse.  And it doesn’t matter if you picture them fulfilling your physical needs or your emotional needs, your thoughts are where your actions begin. And don’t try to justify it. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

And if you are going to follow me, you need to be people of integrity.  When you make a promise, keep it, people shouldn’t have to worry about whether you will keep your word or whether you’re telling the truth. 

If you tell someone you will do something, then do it.  Don’t look for excuses.

When you follow me, you are choosing a better path, and that is a path that will lead you to the Father. 

Just then Thomas jumped to his feet, “But, what if other people don’t treat us that way?  What if they hate us and cheat us and lie about us?”

“Well,” Jesus replied, “That’s to be expected, especially if you have chosen the better way, it’s then that you become an easier target.  And don’t worry, God knows what’s going on.  His blessing will be on you, not them. When they speak ill of you, forgive them.  If they hate you, forgive them.  If they cheat you, forgive them.  Remember, God has forgiven you of much worse than that, and you need to forgive others the same way that God has forgiven you.”

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