Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3529

Jump Start # 3529

Matthew 5:38-39 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 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.”

  The words of our verse come from the section of the sermon on the mount that deals with our relationships with others. Here, a hostile environment is explored. Jesus brings up what we’d call today, violence or assault. Someone slaps you, is not nice, nor kind. It comes from one that resists you. The Lord would add more difficult layers to this. Someone wants to sue you. Someone forces you to go a mile.

  All of these actions causes our blood to boil on the inside. We want to strike back. We want to retaliate. We want to even the score. Jesus only makes things more difficult by adding, ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’ Love and pray? Love and pray after we’ve been sued? Love and pray after we’ve been slapped? Really?

  There are two things built into our verse today about slapping. First, we are not to slap back. Second, we don’t run away. We allow the person to slap the other side of our face. These thoughts are not unique only to this Gospel. Paul told the Romans, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Sentences later he adds, “Do no be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

  Some thoughts for us:

  First, what seems natural is not the right response. We are no longer governed by human nature. We follow Christ. We do what isn’t natural. We do what is righteous. The world would consider turning the cheek as being weak, spineless and even a coward. The movies abound with someone barging into a house full of criminals and busting all of their heads. Guns blazing. Bad guys crashing through windows. Blood everywhere. And, the good guy walks away having dished out justice. That stuff makes great movies. It doesn’t make a great follower of Christ.

  The Savior who never reviled nor uttered threats left a clear example for us to follow. When Stephen was killed, he didn’t take three or four down with him. Stephen didn’t pick up a rock and throw it back to hit someone.

When James was executed, he didn’t go down fighting. That’s not the nature of Christ.

  It sure is hard to balance kindness and gentleness when one has punched the lights out of his enemy. May we add that one can utter threats and revile others on social media. The verbal and emotional damage can hurt a lot longer than the physical abuse.

  Second, what is running through these verses that Jesus spoke is the spirit that what happens to me doesn’t matter. Someone slaps me. We want to stop the presses. We want the world to know how terrible I was mistreated. That’s not what Jesus said. Turn the other cheek. Notice, my enemy doesn’t get a quick one-two pop to my face. No. He’s slapped me once. I turn the other cheek. I willingly do that. This stuff isn’t easy. It takes all that we are to manifest self-control and not allow anger to race through our veins and say or do something that is far from righteous.

  We worry more about ourselves than the congregation. We worry more about ourselves than the kingdom. We worry more about ourselves than the good or the influence we may have on others. When we have been hurt we want everyone to know about it. We want others to know how we have been mistreated. We want others to cry and sympathize with us. We play the victim very well. Cry with me. Cry for me. But in all of this, there isn’t much cheek turning. Rally the troops. Call for backup. Load the missiles. Let’s go to battle! But that’s not what our Lord says. Turn that cheek. Get slapped again. Get humiliated. Get embarrassed again. Get hurt again.

  Third, there will always be justice. It just may not take place here and now and it should not be issued out by me. God will handle these things. The Romans were reminded to “leave room for the wrath of God.” I think with some, there’s nothing left. We’ve done it all. We’ve crossed the line and gotten into the area of God. Slapped. Sued. Forced. Not nice words. These come from people who are not nice.

  Jesus would end this section with these questions: “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” And, what more are we doing than others? Everyone seeks to get even. Everyone will try to settle the score. Eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth. What are you doing differently? What are you doing that shows that you love? What are you doing that shows Jesus?

  We need to be reminded of these things. We must remember these things as we respond to one another. We need these words when we think about the enemies among us.

  Cheek turning…sure is something to think about. Think I need to do more of that. How about you?