Turning the Other Cheek — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

Turning the Other Cheek — Morning Devotions

'Turning the other cheek' is arguably one of the toughest actions we are called to demonstrate each day. But there is a very good reason for it.

By Chris WittsSaturday 24 Sep 2022Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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A member of the Quakers Church was having trouble with his neighbour. He was a nasty, disagreeable type who had a cow, actually, who would wander into this guy’s yard and destroy the well cultivated garden. So you can imagine the problem here. What was this Christian man to do?

The cow came in, but he led the cow back to the neighbour, and the two of them started a discussion. “So what will you do next time?” expecting an answer of retaliation. And the Quaker church man said quietly, “I’ll just bring her back to you again.” Well, it wasn’t the answer expected. It’s a natural part of life, isn’t it? That awkward situations will arise between people, between neighbours and friends.

It can happen anytime, anywhere. Have you ever dealt with a difficult person, for example, a bully or a manipulator or someone who is just downright mean? What do you do in the Children’s cartoon series? VeggieTales. They always have a Christian theme and morals to follow, and one episode featured the character Asparagus and his friends being bullied in the schoolyard by a bigger kid, a giant squash, no less.

The big kid tells the group to leave the yard, or else they cannot come back unless they have his permission first. It was an act of intimidation and bullying. Well, in this cartoon series, Asparagus talked to his father about this situation, and his father said, “you must turn the other cheek.” So the characters took a passive stand, and the whole point of this episode was an attempt on giving advice on this rather difficult topic.

But what does it mean to ‘turn the other cheek’

And I guess you’ve heard this expression to turn the other cheek. Have you heard that expression? And you said to yourself, “well, that’s not going to happen with me. People are not going to walk all over me.” Our natural instinct is self preservation, and that just doesn’t involve people somewhat smacking you around. We’re more likely to seek revenge than to passively absorb abuse. In the Bible, we read the instruction given by Jesus in Luke 6 – “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who will use you. And to him who strikes you on one cheek, turn the other cheek.”

Also, in the culture that I live today, someone hitting me on the cheek is actually a physical attack. But in the time of Jesus, it was more of an insulting action. We might see Jesus as saying, “don’t return insult with insult” and like so much much of Jesus’ teaching, we’ve got to take time to look beneath the surface. In the movie ‘Gandhi’, there were scenes of the British troops wielding the lash on the Indian Patriots, but the Indians didn’t retaliate. They didn’t strike back, run away or show any kind of resistance. They silently stood their ground, making a powerful statement.

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Christians as a whole seem to have a hard enough time with the public image without allowing ourselves to take a beating at every conflict. So can we stand up to bullies? Yes, we can. You can come face to face with many people in your life who will wrong you and you may feel tempted to inflict harm on them. But before you do, really consider Jesus’ words, would retaliation help that situation, which it is, more often than not, use Jesus’ advice and turn the other cheek. And if your pride makes it difficult for you to do so. Show grace. I mean, no one’s perfect. That includes you.

When another person shows an error in judgement in their behaviour, reflect back on times when you made mistakes. Consider how others reacted to your errors and learn from them. Rely on prayer if you find it difficult to show grace to that person. Turn it to prayer because prayer allows you to take your grievances to God, while at the same time showing concern for others were also told in the Bible to love others.

The 1st and 2nd Commandments have to do with loving the Lord your God with all your heart and loving your neighbour as you would yourself and often loving others means showing self-restraint. And unfortunately, there will be some actions or behaviours that are so hurtful that grace, prayer or love cannot overcome them. If that’s the case, you choose to walk away. You may not resolve that situation, but you can prevent causing further emotional harm to yourself and further damage to that relationship. By walking away. We’ve each got a choice in this matter. How are you going to respond?

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, this is one of the hard ones to turn the other cheek. Lord, what do I do? Give me grace to understand what happens at that moment, seeking first of all, to do your will, whatever the result will be, amen.