Q: What does it mean..."To turn the other cheek...." as we read in Mathew ch 5 v 39?
A: Jesus' complete statement is: "If some one strikes you on the right cheek,turn to him the other also"
Of course, any "striking" is a painful blow, but the striking in this instance is meant as a gross insult, why?
well, if a right handed person strikes some ones right cheek, presumably, it is a slap with the back of the hand.
A fist striking you would be on the left cheek....so this teaching by Jesus is not about self defence, but about an attack on your dignity.
In the Eastern culture, slapping some one is considered an insult of the highest order.
But Jesus says here that His disciples should be happy to endure those insults.
Christians are allowed to defend themselves and their families, and to use God ordained authority to keep evil from harming them, or others see Ex 22 v 2: and Acts 21 v 1: How ever, what is forbidden is the taking of revenge......bitterness and retaliation.....
these are absolutely forbidden by Jesus and His apostles.
I'm sure many people have wondered just how far the famous "turn the other cheek" instructions from Jesus Christ should go in every day Christian living.
Does it mean that we should allow ourselves to be door mats? Or that we should be there for every thief or attacker that may come along? It is very important to realize the context in which Jesus was speaking.In essence He was telling those gathered around Him, as well as us today, that we as Christians are not to respond to religious persecutors, as though they were common criminals. He actually went on to say, in Mathew 5...."Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you...etc...but..
He did not say...."You cannot defend yourself" He even said....in Luke "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace...." None of this "turn the other cheek" for robbers and thieves.
So.....why is it O.K. to defend ourselves and yet....why turn the other cheek to those who are unfriendly towards us?
Because we read in Timothy "We must be gentle to all men....apt to teach, and be patient..."
A thief knows exactly what he is doing, sneaking into your place taking things that are not his, plain and simple...
On the other hand....some one who attacks you because of your Christianity. does not know what he is doing!
Their time for understanding God's truths and accepting it has not yet come, so right now.....we have the advantage over that person.
Would you want to harm a good friend?
That is what your persecutor my one day turn out to be, and that friendship will last for ever, through a glorious eternity.....far longer than the few years of a troublesome human lifetime.
"Turn the other cheek" is an important rule for Christians because, as Jesus said, when they were killing Him....
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.....Luke 23 v 43"
and they parted His raiment and cast lots.