Yesterday, we talked about loving our enemies, which is a theme that’s all over the Scriptures, but nowhere is a clearer example given than in the Sermon on the Mount.
When Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, there is a lot more savvy and wisdom there than you might think. As opposed to being a gesture of subjugation, what He is referring to is actually a course of honor.
In Jewish culture, slapping someone on the right cheek would mean that they were slapped backhandedly, which equates to an insult. Why? In that time, people didn’t do anything with their left hand; only with their right (unless they were holding something with both). This is because the right hand was the strong one — it was considered disgraceful to use your left. This is how we know that Jesus is talking here about a backhanded slap, because you can’t slap someone’s right cheek with your right hand without it looking really awkward. In essence, He is saying that when someone insults you, rather than fighting back, turn the other cheek and force them to actually punch you. Make them stake their reputation on it and get violent. As strange as that sounds, in a military face culture, this would have elevated you to the level of a peer and might actually have brought them to a point of shame. After all, you wouldn’t legitimately act in violence against an innocent person, would you? If you did, you would be the one looking foolish!
Friend, Jesus wants you to be a person of true respect, and that happens when you don’t fight back and retaliate. This is why, as unnatural as it seems, living God’s way is practical and useful; it makes life better. When you exist in the Kingdom of God, no matter how much you’re harmed or how many insults you face, you are protected. He loves you, He has your back, and holds your best future ahead. You can rest confidently in that as you put His Word into practice in your life! Isn’t that good news?