The other cheek - Hope 103.2

The other cheek

By David ReayTuesday 18 Nov 2014LifeWords 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)

Christians differ on their reading of Scripture. Some want to take it too literally while others want to explain the hard bits away. So when we come to this rather startling message of Jesus we need to take care. At the risk of ‘explaining it away’,we might suggest that Jesus is not commanding us to urge others to mistreat us.

In the context,he is saying that we do not personally seek revenge on those who hurt us. Elsewhere the Bible speaks of the legitimate role the civil authorities have in punishing wrongdoing: Jesus is not condoning criminal misconduct or even significant abuse. Slapping the cheek was seen as a minor humiliation not a major assault. So we put up with such irritation rather than using the law as justification for revenge taking.

The law of the Old Testament,which was meant to limit the extent of punishment,became a command to exact some punishment even in personal situations. This was never its intent. Jesus is not telling us to put up with abuse. He is using a striking metaphor to tell us not to hit back with more abuse.

If someone mistreats us,we don’t work at mistreating them. But nor will we stick around for more abuse if we can help it. This violates our human dignity and encourages the abusive misconduct. Turning the other cheek might mean walking rapidly away and having nothing to do with the abuser. We may be meek but we are never meant to be masochists.

David Reay