The pastor of an inner-city church told his congregation: "Some people believe in 'an eye for an eye.' However in this neighborhood, it's two eyes for one eye. You can never even the score; you can only raise the stakes."

We have seen it happen on a school playground or in our own homes, a child bumps into another during a game. The one who was bumped pushes back, and the shoving quickly turns into a fight. It's the process of retaliation and escalation in which each act of revenge exceeds the one that provoked it.

In the book of Matthew 5, Jesus tackled a number of key relational issues by raising that standard to the one that pleases God: "You have heard that it was said. . . . But I tell you". His words about turning the other cheek, going the second and even the third mile, and giving to those who may ask might sound as radical and unrealistic to us as they did to those who first heard them. Are we willing to ponder and pray about His teaching? Are we ready to apply it when we are wronged at home, at work, or in other arenas of life?

This cycle of escalation can be effectively be broken when a courageous, faith-filled person refuses to strike back.