Summary: What does Jesus mean when He says to "Turn the Other Cheek"?
Is Your Cheek Red Enough?
by Pastor Jim May
Portions of this message were taken from a message by Rev. Victor Shepherd at another sermon site)
Matthew 5:38-42, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away."
How many of you find it easy to “turn the other cheek” when you have been offended or attacked by another person? It’s not easy to do sometimes. Our natural reaction is to lash back at them, first in self-defence, then in retaliation. Our first thought is to stop any damage to our body, our family or our possessions, then to counter-attack with even greater force to gain the upper advantage and stop such an attack from ever happening again.
Frank Robinson was an outstanding player with the Baltimore Orioles baseball team. He retired as a player and soon became the team manager. One day an opposing pitcher threw the ball at one of Baltimore’s batters and knocked him down at the plate. The inning continued on, and it ended without anything being said or done about the bad pitch that hurt the batter. Then came Baltimore ’s turn to take to the field.
The Baltimore pitcher threw his first pitch over home plate for a strike. That was a good way to begin the inning. According to baseball stats, if a pitcher’s first pitch to each batter isn’t a strike, then the odds are greatly against him pitching a strikeout. Most baseball coaches would have been happy with his pitcher’s performance, but no Frank Robinson. He was angry and he had a score to settle with the other team.
As soon as the pitcher had the ball back, and before he could wind up for a second pitch, Robinson charged out to the mound like wild man. He started screaming and threatening his own pitcher in front of over 40,000 fans.
“How many times have I told you?” he shouted at his pitcher. “When they knock down one of our men you are to knock down their first batter in the next inning with your very first pitch. Never mind throwing a strike. I want to see their batter in the dirt. We don’t let opponents get away with anything.”
Frank Robinson spoke for the mindset of the whole world: “Don’t let them get away with anything. Give them a taste of their own medicine.” That’s the attitude of the world we live in. Strike back – hit ‘em hard – don’t let anybody get away with anything – get even. How many times have I heard someone say, “I don’t mad; I get even!” Even worse than that, I have heard people say many times, “I don’t get mad; I don’t get even; but I give more than I get!”
So in the matter of turning the other cheek, where do we draw the line? Just what does “turning the other cheek” mean anyway? Are we to allow people to walk all over us while we act like a limp dishcloth? At what point do we stand up and stop our attacker?
Before we talk about what “turning the other cheek” means and how far we must go as Christians to obey Jesus’ commands, I think that we should point out what turning the other cheek does not mean.
1) To turn the other cheek does not mean that we should act as though we don’t have all that’s coming to us mentally. It is not mean that we are super-Christians just because we try to put down ourselves and lower our self-esteem, and then develop a lack of self-confidence in who we are and what we are in Christ.
We are all aware of people who have no self-confidence. They regard themselves as insignificant and useless; something less than a human being, created in God’s own image. They think of themselves as doormats, and not surprisingly, everyone around them treats them like a doormat. Sadly, there are many preachers and pastors who have developed this kind of thinking. As a result their enemies in the congregation “walk all over them” and their friends in the church, “lead them around like a puppy on a rope”.
I feel sorry for anyone who has this kind of thinking. They are leading an unhappy and demoralized existence and they will never become the true man or woman of God that they could be. We must not think that to turn the other cheek is to glorify being a doormat for the Lord. We must not think that we should open ourselves up to being victimized by anyone and everyone who decides to come against us and try to control us because it’s so easy for them to do so.