How do you balance forgiveness and righteous anger?

Scripture: Matthew 5:39
How do you balance forgiveness and righteous anger? Turning the other cheek deals with interpersonal relationships. Whereas Jesus cleansing the temple was dealing with an organization. Retaliation breeds vengeance so we need to be careful. But governments need civil laws.
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Caller:  Thanks for taking my call.  My question is, sometimes I have a hard time determining where to draw the line on taking action.  In other words, I know Jesus, at one point, is talking about turning the other cheek and giving the shirt and walking the extra mile.  On the other hand, He got a little angry in the Temple and started, you know, showing it.  He was displeased with what was going on in God's House.

Caller:  And I wonder things like, everything from if someone asks you for money and you think they're going to spend it on something that they shouldn't be spending it on or either to something on the other end of the spectrum, like should we have even fought World War II?  I mean, was it evil to fight?  Of course we had to fight, because these people might just take over the world.  Sometimes I have trouble trying to decide when to take action and not to take action.

Pastor Doug:  Now you've asked several good questions Mark.  Let me see if I can address a couple of those.  I struggled with those same issues until a Scholar explained to me that Jesus is talking about inter-personal relationships when He says 'turn the other cheek.'

Caller:  Yes.

Pastor Doug:  When He went into the Temple, He was acting against the government and against the religious institution for their bad behavior and making the Temple of God a marketplace.

Caller:  Yes.

Pastor Doug:  In our inter-personal relationships, we turn the other cheek.  A government cannot turn the other cheek when somebody kills or steals.  They can't just say, 'well we're going to let you go', because then you have anarchy and chaos and bedlam in society.  There must be punishment.

But as Christians dealing with each other, in our families and in our social relationships, retaliation just breeds vengeance.  Things get worse.  It's like Gandhi was coined saying one time, 'If the whole world lives by the parable of an eye for an eye, the soon the whole world is blind.'

When it comes to governments, the Lord laid down a different set of guidelines for governments in their relationships to each other and that's when you start to look at the civil laws that you find both in the New and the Old Testaments.  Christ was dealing with inter-personal relationships in Matthew 5 verse 39 when He said that.

Caller:  Ok well then a quick follow-up:  If you're in a situation and it's a corrupted situation, should you fight it?  I mean, of course, you should but I need cross talk.

Pastor Doug:  Well we don't fight, Paul says, the way the devil fights.  We have mighty armaments, but they're Spiritual.  Sometimes the way to fight is with kindness.  You overcome evil with good.  Never are we encouraged to overcome evil with evil.

Caller:  Right.

Pastor Doug:  And sometimes it is important for Christians to voice in a loving way their objections.  I think that there's a time where someone may be living a prodigal life and a Christian is doing them harm by supporting them.

Co-Host:  Yes.

Pastor Doug:  You know I often drive by people who are holding up signs saying, 'we'll work for food.'  And I used to be a street person.  I used to panhandle and live on the streets.  And I know that a lot of those people - their lives are all destroyed by drugs.  You don't want to encourage them in their prodigal lives, so I'm very discriminating before I give money to somebody to make sure it's really going to help them and not hurt them.

You asked that question also - how far do you go in helping a person if they're going to misuse what you're doing?  You have to pray for grace.

Caller:  Ok thank you very much.

Pastor Doug:  Ok thank you.  Good question.

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