Turning the Other Cheek

Turning the Other Cheek
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, don’t stand up against an evil person. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek also.”’ – Matthew 5:38-39

The laws of the Old Testament in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy are different from what Jesus teaches about retaliation in Matthew 5:38-39. In the Old Testament times it was permitted to repay a crime with the same punishment. One example of this is in Leviticus 24:20-21 which states:

“Broken bone for broken bone, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Anyone who injures another person must be injured in the same way in return. Whoever kills another person’s animal must give that person another animal to take its place. But whoever kills another person must be put to death.”

It was permitted to punish someone for the same crime that was committed. However, there was a limitation to the punishment for the crime. Jesus abolished this old law of retaliation that was once legally allowed with a new one by setting a higher form of righteousness. He instructed His followers not to repay an evil act with an evil act (Romans 12:17), but to turn the other cheek by not allowing hate and the desire of retaliation to rule our hearts and minds.

We can learn to live out this law by His example. While Jesus was being arrested in Gethsemane, one of His disciples cut the ear off of the high priest’s servant (Matthew 26:51). Jesus did not retaliate but showed righteousness in return by healing the servant’s ear (Luke 22:51).

Prayer of the day:

Dear heavenly Father,

Please forgive us when we struggle to turn the other cheek. Turning from retaliation is the hardest thing to do, especially when people have hurt us. Help us to forgive them. We want to listen to what Jesus taught since He did not retaliate but showed love. He showed love by not repaying evil with evil but replaced evil by doing good. In His great name we pray, Amen!