Read Matthew 5:38-42
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. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. (NLT)
Revenge can be sweet, but it quickly turns sour. If someone hurts us we might wish to hurt them back and so get even. Problem is, we never get even. The law Jesus quotes here was about proportionate punishment: the punishment had to fit the crime. But it had been twisted by the legalists so as to demand revenge when wounded.
Jesus warns against revenge taking. If someone makes an unreasonable demand on you, don’t get back at them. Act with grace if insulted or inconvenienced. Do good to those who would do evil to you rather than repaying evil with evil.
Yet we need to be careful about extending this teaching to all of public life. This is about personal relationships, personal insults. Civil authorities cannot ‘turn the other cheek’. In this case, a slap on the cheek was a minor personal insult not a criminal act. We are entitled to let the law take its course when laws are involved.
This doesn’t make us doormats. We can legitimately stand up for our rights and object to personal insults. But not to the point of exchanging insults. An old quote sums it up: “To return evil for good is devilish; to return good for good is human; to return good for evil is divine”.