Oaths, Retaliation, & Loving Your Enemies In Relation To Mental Illness by David Lee Chu Sarchet
The Sermon on the Mount is a sermon preached by Jesus Christ. They are found in Matthew 5:1-7:27.
In today’s blog, I will be discussing how Oath taking, Retaliation, and Loving Your Enemies relate to mental illness. This is not meant to be an exhaustive exegesis on this particular passage. Other people have already done that. I am merely only giving my own thoughts on these scriptures.
In Matthew 5:34-36 Jesus says,
“But I say to you, do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is His footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say simply be ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more this comes from evil.”
As someone who struggles with separation anxiety, I tend to get nervous a lot, especially when I am attached to someone. When I get attached to people, I tend to worry a lot about how they perceive me to be. At this point, I become a people pleaser and I make all kinds of promises to people that I will be different.
I think it is because of my Schizoaffective Disorder that I am this way, but I also know that it is because of my Separation Anxiety too. In these moments, I must remind myself of the Gospel and how because of what Christ has done for me that means my mental illness trials are only temporary. They will not follow me into eternity.
“But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek also.” (Matt. 5: 39)
This commandment from the Lord is especially difficult for me because Schizophrenic and Bipolar has a tendency to make people very susceptible to retaliation. For example, I tend to get paranoid a lot and when this happens I cannot help but become suspicious of people.
As a result of my suspicions, I end up wanting to “get even” with people as a way to protect myself from being hurt by them. It is because of this reason, it helps me to remember how Christ handled being mocked and abused by people. He never once raised his fist against his tormentors and He never spoke a harsh word in retaliation either.
I firmly believe that when people always feel the need to retaliate, it is a sign of a serious character flaw or immaturity because when you know who you are then you do not feel the need to prove yourself to anyone. This means when people harm you, you can return their evil with love and we have the perfect example of someone who did this: Our Messiah.
Jesus knew exactly who He was and so He was not bothered by His persecutors. Actually, He even prayed for them while He was being hung on the cross.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” (Matt 5:44-45)
This commandment is probably the hardest teaching from Jesus because it is not natural for us to love our enemies. Actually, according to the Heidelberg Catechism, in our natural state we “hate God and our neighbor”. So how much more would we hate our enemy?
It is really easy for me to wish ill-will on the people who used to pick on me when I was a kid because of my mental illness. I want to see them suffer for what they did to me. However, the Lord wants me to love them and honestly I have no right to hate anyone.
I am guilty of worse sins than anyone who picked on me because I used to blaspheme the name of God and I used to purposefully surround myself with ungodly people who would influence me in a negative way too. During this time, I used to pick on Christians and ridicule and mock them for their faith.
These are things I am ashamed of now that I know the Lord and He has changed me too. All to His glory and His honor!
P.S. I would like to take this moment to talk about “Common Grace”.
According to Matthew 5:45, the Lord causes His rain” to fall on the just and the unjust”. This scripture along with James 1:17, the Lord blesses both believers and unbelievers with what is typically called “Common Grace”. This means that even unbelievers can and often do know correct information about the created order, even though they actively suppress the truth.
This is why we can trust our psychiatrists because they understand the human mind and know how to treat it too. They do not need to be a Christian for this and because of this reason we can trust their expert opinion about whether or not we should be taking medication or going through therapy.
Thank you very much for reading this blog. I really appreciate your support and I hope that this blog is edifying to you and most importantly that it will open your eyes to see the world of mental illness differently than you nay have seen it before.
May the grace of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ richly bless you all!!!
-David Lee Chu Sarchet
Christian Mental Health Advocate
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