The Old Covenant and the New Covenant have the same morality. It is our response to the wounds inflicted on us that has changed. Verses 17-20 read,
“Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. 18 Whoever takes an animal's life shall make it good, life for life. 19 If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him.”
Under the Old Covenant when a person sinned against another person, that same injury was done to him. If he stole his neighbors lamb and killed it, he had to give up an animal to his neighbor. If he broke someone’s arm, his arm would be broken in return. If he killed someone, he was killed.
But when Jesus came he paid for our sins, even the ones we have yet to commit. He came with grace and mercy. He forgives us and in our following Him, we forgive others. He said we are to go further than simply forgiving. In His revolutionary message Jesus turned people’s hearts from legalism to Love. Luke 6:27-31 reads,
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”
Rather than retaliate in our flesh, we are supposed to respond compassionately and gracefully. If a man is stealing money, he must need it is so give it to him freely instead. You have not only provided for him in love and mercy as your Father does for you, but you have taken that sin away from him. He can’t steal what is given to him.
If he hits us, we are not supposed to hit him back but actually offer him the opportunity to hit us again. Imagine his reaction to that? I doubt he would hit you a second time. He might yell at you to hit him back, he might ask if you’re crazy. Whatever his reaction, it is an opportunity to love him as Jesus loves you. How many times have you hurt God? How many times have you sinned, half a million times? God never hated you back. He never retaliated. Instead He came to earth and offered Himself to be beaten, tortured and killed because He loves you so much.
If perfect loving Almighty God could do that, can’t we emulate Him and have the same love, grace, and mercy He gave us to others? It takes faith to be able to love people like Jesus loves us. He loves completely and perfectly. He loves without expectation that we will love Him back. We can love Him because He loved us first. We can love others because we experienced His love and He fills us with Himself, and gives us a new heart and a new mind. We can give generously and cheerfully because we know that God takes care of us. We can forgive, because we are forgiven. Luke 6:35-38 reads,
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Love is tangible. Your enemy will not know you love him, if you only tell yourself to have warm fuzzy feelings for him. He will know you love him, or at least know you are different by your forgiveness, your generosity, and your response to his hate. You may be his enemy, but he is your neighbor.
The Lord God took away the punishment for our many sins. We must do likewise for others. Our actions, our active love can lead people to Christ. We have the Holy Spirit, not solely for our benefit but for the glory of Christ. When we act in love and forgiveness of The Spirit, we give people a chance to find salvation. When we act and react in the flesh, we miss chances to lead people to Jesus perfect redemption. John 20:19-23 puts it this way.
“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
As Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” You and I have great power. We can love people by demonstrating Jesus to them and lead them to His redemption, or we can react to their hate in kind and lead them away from Jesus to Hell.