Jesus said, ‘You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you… If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.’ (Matthew 5:38–39 NIV) Though the ‘eye for an eye’ statement sounds harsh to us, it was actually an enormous step forward in the ancient legal world, where powerful people could kill you for the slightest injury. This law limited retribution by teaching proportional justice.
But it still leaves us with a problem. Instinct says if someone hurts you, you hurt them back—and the pain you experience always seems worse than the pain you cause the other person. In an experiment, a group of subjects was paired up, and each person received pressure against their finger. Then they were told to exert the same amount of pressure on the other person’s finger. When it was their turn, they always inflicted more pain than they received. Always. The result is an eye ‘plus-a-little-something-extra’ for an eye.
You say, ‘But this person hurt me and they should pay for it.’ How much should they pay? God alone is capable of answering that question fairly! And His Word says: ‘Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is Mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.’ (Romans 12:19–21 NIV)