Season 1, Episode 69
For Thursday, April 16, 2015
“Principles of Peace: Turn the Other Cheek”
Welcome to The New You, where we focus on maintaining and accentuating the new that Christ has created in you. I’m Robert Hatfield, and here is today’s scripture:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also (Mat. 5:38-39).
How do you react when someone mistreats you?
I remember being on the playground in the second grade. There was this one student who went around bullying everyone else. It was nothing too serious as I recall, but serious enough that I was a little scared of him. I remember telling my parents about him and how I didn’t want to play outside with him. One day, after having that conversation with my parents, I encountered this boy outside. He was intimidatingly mean. For whatever reason, I decided to respond with kindness. I was shocked at his response. He, in turn, was kind to me. Because I didn’t respond aggressively, he was nice in return.
I’m honestly not sure why I chose to do the right thing back in second grade, and I certainly can’t say that I’ve handled similar situations as well since then. Nevertheless, I experienced first-hand that Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount about turning the other cheek are true!
We live in a litigious, me-centric society. Our attitude is often that if someone harms me – whether physically, emotionally, financially, or in any other way – then I will harm them at least the same amount in return. But that mindset never puts us out on top. It sends us further and further in the dark depths of hatred and bitterness in our hearts, separating us more and more from the love of God.
Jesus said that this was how many in the first century viewed this kind of hurt. They had heard that it was “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Mat. 5:38). They heard that from the Old Testament, in Exodus 21:24. The problem was that the scribes seem to have misused this Old Testament text as a license for revenge rather than a law to deter crime and mistreatment.
The instructions that Jesus offers here are for His followers in their personal relationships with others. Certainly, as we noted yesterday, our law enforcement officials are well within their bounds to punish evildoers. That’s why God put them in that position, having given them the authority with which they enforce the laws of the land (Rom. 13).
You and I, however, are to have the love of God abiding in us. That is a love that is selfless and unconditional. Remember that God loved us and gave His Son to die for us even when we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). That being the case, Jesus gives us these commands with reference to what we should do when others mistreat us:
But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away (Mat. 5:39-42).
Let’s wrap it up: No one said this would be easy. Sometimes I find myself amazed that this is really what God expects me to do. And yet, this is exactly how Jesus treated those who mistreated Him.
When He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously (1 Pet. 2:23).
Do you have the faith in God and the love of God enough to live like that?
Memory Verse: These principles of peace are greatly summarized in our verse for this week, Romans 12:18:
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men (Rom. 12:18).
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Tomorrow, let’s close out our week together by taking a look at Romans 12 and vengeance. I’ll meet you then for The New You.