Turn the Other Cheek — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

Turn the Other Cheek — Morning Devotions

Jesus expects his followers to be different—to have different values. Out of love, when he was insulted, he left judgement for his Heavenly Father.

Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions

By Chris WittsThursday 19 Dec 2019Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 3 minutes

Many great TV soaps and films have a story in the script about old scores being settled—in other words getting the last action, the last word. For example in “Dallas” who shot JR—that sort of thing.

It’s all about getting your own back. If someone takes a pop at you, take a pop back. Track down your assailant and make sure they get what they deserve. Revenge, they say, is a dish best served cold. In other words, calculate a deliberate plan of retribution.

Revenge, Jesus taught, is a dish best not served at all. “I tell you,” he said, “do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too” (Matthew 5:38-39 – GNT).

Jesus Teaching Is Revolutionary

Jesus’ words are so revolutionary that, even though they have found their way into everyday language, they are often preceded by words negating them. Someone might ask rhetorically: What did they expect me to do—turn the other cheek?! The expected answer is: Of course not. However, Jesus advocates getting our forgiveness in first. Violence begets violence and somebody needs to take the initiative to stop the vicious circle. This is not necessarily pacifism or a refusal to defend one’s home or family. But it is a refusal to strike back purely out of revenge.

The saying goes: “Don’t get mad, get even.” Jesus says that getting even only leads to more trouble. TV news bulletins and newspaper reports remind us of this everyday. Retaliation is not an option.

Embedded deep in each of us there is a desire to retaliate when we are wronged. Think of little children—what happens when they are pushed or hit or pinched, or someone takes their favourite toy? They strike back or want to get even. It seems a natural thing to do. Sometimes it’s out of a sense of justice or fairness, but often—if we’re honest—it’s out of a sense of anger, revenge or retaliation.

Jesus Followers Have to Act Differently

Look at road rage today. Drivers get very angry when another motorist does the wrong thing. You see it every day on the roads—sometimes collisions occur, or people get out of their car and there’s a punch up. Over what? Haven’t we become hypersensitive? How different to Jesus who said, “Do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one also”. Here was a new way of thinking. The old law says, If someone strikes you on the cheek, strike him back. Jesus says in fact, If someone insults you with a slap, rather than striking back, be willing to endure a second insult without retaliation. He says, Don’t respond like that, don’t retaliate, don’t hate,don’t wish evil on the person. That’s a tall order and a difficult job to do. It’s not the natural thing we would do.

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But Jesus expects his followers to be different—to have different values. He was insulted, slandered. But he didn’t attack back—even when he was falsely accused. Out of love, he didn’t respond in that way. He left judgement for his Heavenly Father. Peter says in his epistle, When they hurled insults at Jesus, he did not retaliate. When he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

The Apostle Paul said in Romans 12:17, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. Turning the other cheek, not striking back, is a way to overcome evil. We each have a choice in this matter: will you respond with vindictive anger, or will you respond with the love of Christ?

Ask God to help you treat people in the way Christ calls you to. Don’t retaliate on impulse. Ask God to help you, and to see that other person as someone Jesus loves.