Turning The Cheek — A LifeWords Devotion - Hope 103.2

Turning The Cheek — A LifeWords Devotion

Jesus goes onto encourage us not to engage in “tit for tat” behaviour. The world may be obsessed with revenge and punishment, but God urges us not to be.

By David ReayMonday 21 Sep 2020LifeWords DevotionalsDevotionsReading Time: 2 minutes

Matthew 5:38-42

“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. (NLT)

At first glance, all this may seem like an invitation to be doormats, to allow assault, to forgo all legal rights, to give all our wealth away to anyone who wants it. Against this, we need to understand Jesus often used exaggeration to make a point…much as we do. It is not deceit but simply passionate emphasis.

And we also need to understand context. Jesus is challenging a literalist view of the Old Testament. A slap on the cheek was not a criminal act but a petty personal insult. Jesus says not to retaliate by insulting back. The law of “eye for eye” was meant to limit actions in response to wrongdoing. The punishment had to fit the crime. But it had been twisted to mean that you were meant to retaliate if someone offended you…as long as it is proportionate.

Jesus goes on to say that we may have to put up with some hurt and some loss. We do have legal rights: Paul once insisted on his own. But instead of seeking some sort of revenge cloaked in legal rights, we may willingly forgo some rights. He urges generosity to those in need, while presumably not advocating splashing money around irresponsibly.

The overall point being that we are not to engage in “tit for tat” behaviour. We are not to have a mindset intent on jealously guarding our rights, and keeping merely the letter of the law. We are to be neither doormats or demanders of our rights.

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