Among the hard sayings of Jesus is this one, "Turn the other cheek." How are we to do that without allowing ourselves to be abused by others? We will talk about that in this devotion.
Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
– Matthew 5:29-42
There is a truth hidden in this passage that when understood and practiced will turn any person into a peacemaker. See if you can detect this divine principle in this devotion.
People in the western world spend massive amounts of time, energy and money to combat evil and the result is that prisons house more inmates and communities have not been made safer. Why is that? Are we perpetuating violence rather than stopping violence?
Take 12 people and line them up. Instruct the first to slap the second, the second to slap the third, etc. through the entire line. If that continues you will have 12 angry people who are probably busy slapping each other. But let's say that the first person slaps the second and the second slaps the third. The third looks at the second and says, “This has got to stop and it stops with me. I will not strike number four.” The violence has ended.
I know that is simplistic but it is at least a beginning. Suppose we change the way we think about the aggressor. Suppose that instead of responding with appropriate retaliation we respond with, “What can I do to make things easier for you?”
Jesus said, “If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” What would compel a person who has just received an injustice to be more generous than was asked of him?
In Jesus day a Roman soldier could require a local citizen to carry his gear, but only for a mile. What would happen if the citizen said, “Sir, I would be willing to carry your gear for another mile?”
Have you figured out the principle? God employed this principle when he gave us Jesus. “For God so loved the world that he gave…” Think about how you can love and give.
Prayer: Father, help me to love others as you have loved me. Amen.
Message: Suppose we change the way we think about the aggressor. Suppose that instead of responding with appropriate retaliation we respond with, “What can I do to make things easier for you?”
Affirmation: Rather than think of how I can retaliate against an aggressor I consider how I can help relieve the cause of his aggression.
Reflection: God knew what would happen to Jesus when he came to earth preaching the kingdom and Jesus knew his destiny. That fact gives meaning to his teaching about turning the cheek and going the extra mile. So how do we do that? The same way he did: "For God so loved the world that he gave..." Think about it.