Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:38-42, Exodus 21:23-25, Exodus 22:26-27, Romans 13:1-4, 1 Peter 2:21-23
You’ve probably felt like a doormat at times. I have too. Worn out, overlooked, stepped on, stepped over, left outside, dirtied, and eventually discarded. I’ve felt it in friendships and in family and in my own home. I’ve felt it in conversations and invitations and misinterpretations. I’ve felt it in my own heart and had it confirmed by others when they didn’t know I could hear.
My temptation is to stand straighter, hold my head higher, and if I’m honest, to sometimes do it right back. Forget to invite. Overlook. Walk past. Not consider. I want to give like in return for like, an eye for an eye, as Jesus said was the norm in Matthew 5:38. This is a human reaction to a human condition; we’re all trading eyes without ever really seeing anything at all. But Jesus wanted to show us another way:
“If anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:39-42).
In other words, don’t trade eyes for eyes, giving like for like; instead, take the exchange out entirely: Give and turn, then let go. Jesus is essentially telling us to turn our palms up, shoulder the weight we’re not meant to carry, and walk on, going with them for an extra mile. We ought to out-give, out-do, out-serve, and in doing so, bring honor and glory to Him.
We’ve all felt like the doormat, felt the rub of dirty feet across our backs, a by-way for others to step over in their entrance to the feast. But then I think of sweet Jesus, lifting the feet of the disciples—dirty, sore, broken, smelly feet—and washing them with His own hands. The Savior of the world holding the feet of users and walkers and blind men who thought they could see, and washing them, making them clean.
We are not the Savior. We cannot make clean what is unclean, but we can turn our cheeks, anticipating the sting of a broken person’s hand. We can anticipate the swindler, coming to take us for all we’re worth, and give them everything, saying our worth is wrapped up in Christ and not what we own. We can walk not one mile, but two, knowing it takes longer than a mile to long-suffer with someone, finding in the second mile that we are no longer enemies, but friends. And we can give instead of withhold, forgive instead of demanding repayment.
I know the world may see us as doormats still—used, reused, walked over, and forgotten. But with our eyes fixed on Jesus, rather than on judging others, we will see something far better and more glorious than revenge: Christ, who became nothing, obedient to death, even death on a cross, so that we might walk miles and miles and miles with Him, both in this life and in the next.
Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, and tweets and instagrams at @lorewilbert. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.