Jesus is known as the one who preached turning the other cheek, and loving thy enemy. In Matthew 5:38-39, he states, “Ye have heard it hath been said, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you: That ye resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” This is the first literary example of complete passivity in the face of violence. Jesus encouraged mankind to put away vengeful thoughts, and give over resentment, but rather embrace fellow man despite all of their follies and failings.
The Bible speaks of the Lord taking care of all things, and seems to say that it is presumptuous for humans to feel that they need to take matters in their own hands. Proverbs 20:22 says, “Don’t try to get even. Trust the Lord, and he will help you.” Simply put, God will provide in His own time and own way, and it is a measure of faith to eschew revenge and leave it up to God. God says that vengeance belongs to Him, and He alone has the power to judge. And yet, there are times when action is called for.
The Bible encourages Christians to settle disputes out of court in a brotherly fashion. However, it also states that all citizens must follow the law of authority and of the land, and to not do so opens one up to retribution. Romans 13:1-7 states, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities…the authorities that exist have been established by God.” This clearly encourages citizens to put civil matters into the hands of the chosen court systems or the law. Jesus himself was forced to put himself into the hands of authorities. Why, then, should we be exempt from the same thing?
The Bible is the best source for a guide on what is right and wrong. While there may be gray areas and some things are left up to interpretation, others are as clear as day. Jesus encourages the forgiveness of one another for everlasting life, but God also promises to provide the ultimate justice to those who deserve it. In the meantime, Christians are encouraged to stay law-abiding citizens, and follow through on the laws of the land. God’s law supersedes all of man’s law. When in doubt, follow the gospels of Christ and the word of God to find the answer.
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