Daily Bible Reflection for Recovery for the Week of May 1

Exodus 21:24 – “…an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot…”

This is one of the most famous, and most famously misunderstood, phrases in the entire Bible. Understanding the difference between what “an eye for an eye” really means, as opposed to what a lot of people think it means, can teach us a lot about sobriety and recovery. A lot of people think “an eye for an eye” is about revenge. If someone pokes you in the eye, poke them in the eye, and so forth. Get even! But, curiously, it is not about that at all. “An eye for an eye” is a formula for civil damages, meaning if someone harms you to the tune of $20, they owe you $20. It’s a profound difference, when viewed from the perspective of recovery. For many of us, addictive behavior is fueled by feelings of revenge and resentment, the wanting to gauge out the eyes of someone who hurt us. True recovery and sobriety occurs, however, when you are ready to pay damages yourself, to make amends to people you have harmed. If you took $20, pay back $20. Do it. You’ll feel a lot better about yourself and you will be building your sobriety. That’s the true meaning of “an eye for an eye.”

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