Matthew 5:39 (NASB95)
39 “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
Hmm…one of the more uncomfortable principles of the kingdom. Why? It’s because no one likes to be slapped! I certainly don’t and I suspect you don’t either, yet we all get “slapped” from time to time don’t we? The question is not, “Will we be slapped?”, but rather “How will we react when we are slapped?”
Let’s exegete this a bit so we understand what Jesus is teaching us.
Jesus is not saying you and I may not defend ourselves when violently attacked. There is a huge difference in a “slap to the face” and someone out to do you or loved ones’ serious physical harm. A “slap” is more of an act of insult to you than anything else. The original language makes it clear this is an “open-handed” slap rather than a closed fisted punch. The teaching of Jesus is clear then. When insulted we are not to insult back. In fact, we are to allow the insult to continue without retaliation if required, for the sake of not escalating the situation further. Turn the other cheek and let them fire away if necessary.
Yes, it is humbling. Yes, it will sting a bit. Yes, you will walk away red-faced. Yes, some may mock what they deem as weakness in you. Yes, some will encourage you to slap back and escalate the situation further…but as a child of God you must not.
In some respects this is instruction for us to “take the high road”. Don’t come down to another person’s level and fight them on their turf, trading insult for insult. Chances are if you have any character about you at all, you would lose in this exchange. That’s right, I said you would lose. Why? It’s because as a child of God there should be no evil in you. Look at the text again. It says “…do not resist an evil person…”. Insults are not rooted in the character and nature of a child of God. They are rooted in evil. If you try to fight evil with evil, you have already lost. The enemy has won because God will not be on your side in the situation.
The only way to “win” is to turn the other check and walk away. Now apply the principle that the battle is not yours, but the Lord’s. He will take the sting away from your face and do what is necessary to combat the evil done.