This is one of my favorite scenes from Le Miserable. Bishop Myriel takes in the hungry, despised, and desperate ex-con Jean Valjean, showing him love and respect. Valjean responds with treachery, stealing a few items of value. When Valjean is caught by the authorities and brought before Bishop Myriel for accusation, the Bishop validates Valjean’s story (that the items were a gift) and chides him for neglecting to take a pair of silver candlesticks as well. He then sends Valjean on his way with the candlesticks and these parting words,
But remember this, my brother
See in this some higher plan
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man
By the witness of the martyrs
By the Passion and the Blood
God has raised you out of darkness
I have bought your soul for God!
Among other things, Bishop Myriel’s actions illustrate Jesus’ teaching to not resist evil. Have you ever heard these words from Jesus?[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
Hidden in the teachings of Jesus on the Mount of Olives are these preposterous words, “Do not resist evil” (Matthew 5.39) Preposterous indeed! It gets even worse when he teaches, “Love your enemies.” Now he’s gone too far. Actually, he goes further…
When you’re slapped on one side of your face, let yourself be slapped on the other side.
When you’re legally obligated to give your hat, give your jacket as well.
When forced to go one mile, go two.
Give to the beggar and loan to the borrower.
When someone steals your silver, make sure they take your expensive candlesticks as well.
(from Bishop Myriel)
Let’s be wise. Jesus is not setting policy for governments or institutions. His focus is on individuals living out the life of Jesus as He instructs.
And, learn to resist one thing – Satan himself (James 4.7, 1 Peter 5.9). Jesus teaches how to do this by his own example. But, that’s for another post.
Getting At the Meaning
Let’s not explain away Jesus’ teaching. In surrendering completely to God and in giving thanks for all things, such an action makes perfect sense.
Dr. Meletios Webber, theologian, psychologist, monk, pastor and teacher writes about Jesus’ teaching:
Jesus does not intend that we should give in to the evil impulses inside of us, but that we should surrender to forces outside of ourselves without labeling them, without first deciding what is “good” and what is “evil.” This we can do only by submitting to what looks like evil, since we naturally tend not to resist the good. “Love your enemies” actually means “have no enemies.” “Do not resist evil” means “learn to resist nothing.”
- When a homeless man asks you for money, give him something as you are able.
- When it rains, accept it as God’s blessings on you and others.
- When the traffic is moving slowly, receive it as from God who teaches you patience and love.
- When a friend criticizes you, just listen without defense and say “Thank you.”
- When someone compliments you, receive it graciously and say “Thank you.”
- When someone writes something on Facebook that agitates you, see them as bearing the image of God and say, “Thank you.”
- When you see others relating poorly with one another, reflect on your own “poor” relationship with God instead of criticizing them.
My last post on saying “Thank you” for all things led me to this “resist nothing” teaching. The two seem to go hand in hand since they share the same challenge of not determining what is good and what is bad, what is worthy of thanks and what is not worthy of thanks. When you make this kind of determination, God is removed and you become as God. Sound familiar? That’s what Lucifer tried to do.
So, if you have to resist something, resist yourself – “the evil impulses inside” (in Dr. Webber’s quote above). That should keep you so busy you’ll have little time to label the “evil” of others.
Comment below on your attempts to “resist nothing.”