But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also ~Matthew 5:39
Such hard words to live by! It seems like lately, there is a sign on my face that says “Please be rude to me.” All I want to do is be rude right back and why not? There is a smug satisfaction in it! Makes me feel so good that I was able to “one up” someone’s nasty little remark. Yet, when I give in to my desire to be snarky, I have a small voice telling me that wasn’t very Christ-like. Takes all the joy out of it and I am instantly corrected.
Here’s the thing… there is scripture after scripture that tells those who truly belong to Christ that we are to be like Him. In fact, the term “Christian” means “belonging to Christ” as in slave ownership. The term was first used as “Christianos” in Acts 11:26 in Antioch “and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”
So, if you are a Christian what are you supposed to do? Be a doormat and just let people walk all over you?
Not an easy question to answer because we insist on wanting control over EVERYTHING in our life. I find myself saying “I’m not ready to submit to this or that right now,” or “I don’t really care for this person and I am definitely better than them,” or even “I can’t make that sacrifice right now because no one is really watching to see what a great person I am!”
What if God actually has that in His plan for you? What if He is trying to teach you something about yourself and you are getting in your own way of spiritual development? Case in point: Our son got into trouble in High School about a week ago. This is the same thing he got pulled into the Vice Principal’s office last year in January. So a year later, my husband & I are dealing with the same thing. We realized very quickly that our punishment for him last time was not painful enough. This time, we are both sticking to our guns: no car, no phone, no video games. In fact, we have confiscated all of these things.
Yesterday, he wanted to take the car for something and he asked us. When something is painful, we tend to remember it more. It causes us to be disciplined and straightened out. Riding the bus in high school can be pretty humiliating and tough. He basically told us that he did not want that (and personally, I cannot blame him) and thought he should be able to drive now. We reminded him that the choice to disrespect & not obey our rules his own… not ours. Every choice comes with a consequence.
His dilemma got me thinking about God the Father and my response to Him. Do I deal with inconveniences for a few days as a martyr and then go back to tell Him “Hey… that’s just too much for me to bear!”? The honest answer is “yes.” The complaining adds more to my own fleshly desire to stay in my comfort zone and do something that I don’t want to do. It’s beneath my dignity.
Jesus took the beatings and punishment to the point of death and put aside His dignity. What on earth could make me feel that something was now beneath my own dignity? His life was poured out – literally! Why is it that if I am feeling discomfort for a few minutes, I have to go and complain or take offense to another? Why don’t I just suck it up and take it? That’s what the verse above is saying “Suck it up and take it. In fact, turn the other cheek so they can slap you again!” That is the cost of following the ONE and His path will bring you greater peace.
Why does turning the other cheek bring peace? The person who is doing the slapping will get tired of no response from you. They will move on to bigger and better things (for that’s how it goes). No reaction = no fun. Peace also comes from praying for your enemies. Sounds completely contradictory, but when we pray for those who are against us, it is our own self that is changing and bending towards God’s will. This is again, contrary to what our own flesh wants.
The Bible reminds us “I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 15:50. May those be sobering words for us to remember when we want to get our own way, when we want to say that remark that’s on the tip of our tongue or when we want to be the king or queen of our castle.
Do this instead: stop for a few seconds, take a deep breath and breathe in the Holy Spirit. Let His peace that passes all understanding flow through you. Then, turn the other cheek and choose the eternal life that God gives you.