October 15th 2009

Turning The Other Cheek

“…Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks [of] you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask [for] them back.”
Luke 7:27-29 (NKJV)

I was woken at 4:15 by my neighbour ringing my doorbell. “We’ve been burgled,” he told me. “You had better check whether you have too.” I did, and I had. But they had been disturbed, I think. Because they only got away with a small amount of money and a hand-held GPS unit.

My neighbour was outraged; he lost considerably more than me, to be fair. What wouldn’t he do to them if he could lay his hands on them! I merely shrugged my shoulders, contemplating the insurance hassle of getting doors and locks replaced, and said, “Well, no one has been hurt, fortunately.”

But why would God tell us to forgive those who have done the dirty on us? Naturally, our first reaction is for revenge—at least to bring down the full weight of the law on those who have done us wrong. But Jesus’ advice stresses another purpose, and is given simple logic: “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you [your trespasses against him]” (Matthew 6:14-15).

Even in the heat of the moment when all thoughts focused on the losses I had experienced, as a Christian I was obligated to remember that God has forgiven many more sins I have committed in my lifetime against Him and His perfect way, than anything of value some young thug had managed to lift out of my kitchen. It is, you see, a matter of perspective.

It’s not that the Christian is naïve in being prepared to be receive another blow on the other cheek, or simple-minded, in being overly-willing also to lose his tunic. It’s more a case of do as you would be done by, or as Christ put it: “…just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them…” (Luke 7:31). That doesn’t preclude us from doing all we can to bring thieves to justice. But Christians have a higher priority in life than simple vengeance or revenge—or even just hanging on to what is our own. Our goal is to be becoming more like Jesus, which requires us taking on and concentrating on His concepts, rather than our own.

Most merciful Father, thank you for lifting our eyes from this life and surroundings to focus on You and Your way of life. That makes us concentrate on things other than the priorities so many hold to. Help us to continue to make Your priorities our priorities, Your concepts our concepts. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford 

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