The slap on the cheek - Hope 103.2

The slap on the cheek

By David ReayThursday 14 Nov 2013LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Matthew 5:38-39

38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye,and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say,do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek,offer the other cheek also. (NLT)

A text like this can be badly misunderstood. It is not to do with tolerating criminal acts. If someone acts in a criminal way,the law has to take its course. And we who are the injured party are to work towards forgiving that person even as the crime is justly punished.

Jesus is referring to instances where we are personally insulted: a slap on the cheek was one such insult. He says we are not to wheel out the big guns of the civil law by insisting on insulting that person in return. Better to put up with the insult than engage in a futile cycle of revenge by resorting to the letter of the law.

It reminds us that we will have to put up with unfairness in life. God is fair,life is not. People won’t always treat us justly. We may rightly ‘stick up for ourselves’ and seek to redress the injustice or challenge the insult. But not in a spirit of revenge or payback. If we can right the wrong,well and good. If we cannot,we entrust the matter to a just and wise God.

To dwell on the wrong done to us,to chew over it and let it dominate our lives,is to allow the wrongdoer to shape our life. The wrongdoer has won. There are times when the law fails us in the big matters,and when our principled and respectful response to insults in the lesser matters also fails us. At such times,we accept the reality of an unjust and unfair world and commit ourselves to a just and fair God.

David Reay