I love this passage taken from Jesus’ ‘Sermon on the Mount’ in Luke 6. Read and see why –
Love for Enemies
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Easier said than done, you say? I completely agree. Which is why we must rely on God’s strength and Spirit to cultivate this posture within us. Remember, these words come directly from Jesus Christ – the One we are called upon to emulate. If anyone has experience in being treated unfairly and ‘turning the other cheek,’ it was Him.
I remember working at a job some time ago when I found myself reading and re-reading this passage over and over again. I would often quote it to myself as a way of reminding me of Jesus’ instruction. It helped, a lot. The test came time and time again when I would have to speak with certain individuals. It made all the difference and I think it informed and shaped my response.
But what does it mean exactly? What is the passage referring to at its core? What does it mean to ‘turn the other cheek?’
Simply this –
Do not give in the same manner in which you have received.
Being hurt is an experience common to us all. Therefore, if someone does something to us, respond in the opposite way. Love and do good to those who hate you (that’s a pretty strong word BTW), bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you.
This will always prove to be the more difficult path, but it will yield the greatest dividends.
After all, if we are to follow our Lord’s example, we are summoned to no higher calling; to forgive as He has forgiven us…when we deserved it least. If nothing else, our response may win over some to receive His grace, which in itself is purely undeserved.
For additional reading, check out one of my earlier articles on http://www.christianity.ca entitled, Grace & Forgiveness: Cardinal Virtues in a Hostile World