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February 2, 2023

Release Your Rights

Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
–Matthew 5:42

Jesus said we need to be ready to release our rights rather than hang on to them, even with our enemies. For example, we first of all need to release our right to dignity. Look at Matthew 5:39: “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.” Jesus was talking about a backhanded slap. It was a way of insulting another person, saying, “I think so little of you that I am not even going to give you a full slap; I am going to do it with the back of my hand.” In other words, Jesus was saying, do not return insult for insult. Give up your right to personal dignity.

Second, we need to be willing to release our right to property. Verse 40 says, “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.” The coat was the most basic unit of clothing in the Middle East. Everybody had a right to a coat. But Jesus was warning that an excessive focus on keeping your rights can crowd out God in your life. There are times you need to be willing to release your right to property. Paul talked about that in Romans 12:20: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” When you refuse to retaliate and instead do something kind for your offender, it hurts. That is a way of bringing conviction and repentance into a non-Christian’s life.

Third, Jesus said we need to be willing to release our right to autonomy. Matthew 5:41 says, “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” Under Roman law, a Roman soldier could compel a Jewish citizen to carry his luggage or armament for one mile. The Jews hated the Romans. They were enemies. So Jesus was saying if your enemy interrupts your schedule and asks you to do something, go that extra mile. If your boss asks you to work late, do not only stay late, but also buy pizza for everybody else who has to stay late. Give up your right to autonomy.

Fourth, be willing to release your right to money. Now, this is where Jesus went from preaching to meddling. He said in verse 42, “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” If somebody, even your enemy, needs something from you that you have the means to provide, do not refuse. The idea is to hold your money loosely. After all, it does not belong to you anyway–ultimately, it belongs to God. If I run into somebody on the street who is destitute and asking for money, in years past, my response was, “I better not give them money. Who knows what they will do with it? They might buy wine or drugs.” I have now come to realize what they do with the money is not my responsibility. If I have the money, I give it, and then I leave the rest up to God. Hold your money loosely.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Straight Talk About Your Enemies” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2022.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org

 

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