What's Mine Is Yours

By Lee Jones

.:Matthew 5:40-41:.

We saw last time that Jesus openly discouraged retaliation when it came to a physical altercation. 

Matthew Henry provides great insight on this passage, which is misused to say that Christians should always be victimized. Henry wrote, “If the matter be small, which we may lost without considerable damage to our families, it is good to submit for peace’s sake.” He’s referring to V. 40, giving your cloak to one who brings a suit against you to take your tunic. In a matter so trivial, like a slap in the face, it’s better to just accept a small loss such as a cloak, which can be cheaply replaced, than to truly make enemies by bringing a countersuit. Note Henry’s distinction about damage to family; you must fight a suit that is intended to drastically harm one’s family. 

Christians are to be generous, as our Father has been generous to us.

A similar story involves walking miles forcefully, the kind of the the civil authority could dictate, and the Romans did so. Again, the ethic comes out; instead of resisting, it is better to take an intended slight in obedience to Christ. 

Henry again, “Small injuries must be submitted to, and I notice taken of them; and if the injury be such as requires us to seek reparation, it must be for a good end, and without the thought for revenge.”

That brings us to Jesus’ summary in V. 42, “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”

Christians are to be generous, as our Father has been generous to us. Everything good and perfect we receive is a gift from heaven, thus it’s not ours. But we need to be discerning to whom we dispense generosity. 

Only the truly needy are beggars, and we are truly beggars before our Father*. We are under no compulsion to give gift upon gift to the lazy, those who make beggars of themselves through inaction (2 Thess. 3:10). By doing so, our attempt to show grace through generosity would actually cause harm by supporting ungodliness. 

Instead, when someone in need asks to borrow from us, we shouldn’t turn them down. Because we have been given everything we have by God’s grace, we are free to give or lend freely, and to honor YHWH by doing so. 

Glory to God alone. 

*Thanks to Shawn Tomlin for suggesting the last part of this sentence. 

Lee Jones