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The Benefits of Turning the Other Cheek

Carola is a Christian writer and author of several books. She writes about Christian living, relationships, and other related topics.

I confess I really enjoy hitting Twitter early in the morning. I am always looking for the latest news, story ideas, and information from my news feed. One day, I opened my page and saw that one of my many followers had sent me a message. When I clicked on it, my jaw dropped. The message was short: “f--- u.”

I was totally bewildered. This woman followed me on Twitter but was a total stranger to me. As far as I knew, we had never communicated before. When I checked out the lady's page, the postings there were typical of people who followed my tweets. When I took a second look at my profile, there did not seem to be any postings that would provoke that kind of message.

I was shocked and then angry. Yes, as a Christian, I hate swear words. Even before I became a person of faith, I dislike vulgar, crude language that I felt degraded the body's natural functions. I felt righteous indignation and wanted to formulate a "how dare you" response. In the end, I chose not to respond and blocked her from messaging me again. I decided to turn the other cheek.

I have seen some media and personal stories lately where people choose to retaliate with nasty comments to benign posts. People who posted the original "flame" respond, and the situation escalates into name-calling, hurtful remarks, and hate pages on social media. The original person who posted and responders start to feel like victims and rally others to rage with them.

Then the situation turns into a war between people who may not even know each other and have probably never met. The term “flame” for an abusive post is appropriate because it can quickly change from sparks into a raging fire.

What Jesus Taught

I chose to do what I feel Jesus would have done in some situations – turning the other cheek by not reacting, forgiving them for ruining my happy mood, and praying for the person. It is not an easy thing to do, but sometimes, it is the only way to keep the peace.

Jesus' teachings about turning the other cheek are found in Matthew 5:38-40 and Luke 6:29. He said:

  • Do not resist an evil person
  • If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other cheek to them as well
  • If someone sues you and takes your shirt, hand over your coat as well
  • If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them

The teaching is contrary to how our society responds to offenses. We are expected to make clever, sarcastic responses that will cut the person down to size. We are told that we should take people to court in some circumstances or take revenge in other ways.

Retaliation will not change the situation for the better and will make things worse. If we slap someone after they slap us, anger will escalate and probably explode into a fight that will harm us. The Christian faith teaches that we should live peaceably among all men and leave vengeance to God (Romans 12:19).

Jesus recommends a course of action when enemies hurt us (Luke 6:27-29):

  • Love our enemies
  • Do good to the people that hate us
  • Bless the people who hate us
  • Pray for people who abuse us
  • Turn the other cheek in certain situations

In some circumstances, we have no control over the other person. We have no choice but to turn the cheek, hand over our coats, carry the burdens required of us, or do whatever the equivalent of the Roman soldier is in our lives tells us to do. There are dire consequences if we do not comply at the time. A Roman soldier type can beat us up, throw us in jail, or kill us.

The Benefits of Turning the Other Cheek

Defuses a Potentially Harmful Situation

If someone slaps or harms us, it is usually because they are angry with us. If we turn the other cheek, they may calm down. Sometimes people attack in an attempt to aggravate people and start a fight. Fighting takes two.

Helps Us to Keep our Emotions in Check

I was so angry at first at the message I received and thought of nasty retorts to the email I received. When I decided not to react, I was able to keep my feelings under control and let go of my anger. I could forgive the person and forget about them. I was released to get on with my day.

Gives us a Special Blessing

God blesses us if we do not retaliate in situations where we do not deserve the suffering heaped upon us (1 Peter 2:18-20). We are commended if we endure through the situation.

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Shows Love to the Other Person

We are demonstrating the love of God by not fighting back or taking vengeance. Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Acknowledges We are Not Always in Control

If someone pulls out a gun and demands our money, we are not in control of the situation. In Jesus's day, a Roman could demand our coats or that we carry something. We often have no choice whether or not to comply with demands on us.

Leaves Vengeance to the Lord

We are to give water to the thirsty and bread to the hungry, even if they are our enemies (Proverbs 15:21).

When Turning The Other Cheek is Not Appropriate

Some people interpret this principle as meaning that Christians are supposed to be wimps that continually take abuse from others or stand by while others are attacked. This is not what turning the other cheek means. Jesus himself did denounce the Pharisees who verbally attacked Him (Matthew 23) and objected to being struck by one of the officers or the high priest (John 18:22-23).

When we look at the examples that Jesus outlined, it seems this principle only applies to specific situations. Turning the other cheek does not mean we endure abuse. We have the right to defend ourselves if someone is physically assaulting us, for example.

We should hold people accountable for their actions and, if a crime is committed, report them to law enforcement. This action protects other potential victims and us from harm.

In the end, turning the other cheek is a choice in response to a specific situation. There are appropriate times to be silent as well as to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7). These situations are usually unfair and maddening, but using this principle can keep us safe from harm, both emotional and physical.

God approves of us if we can bear the pain of unjust suffering and endure it for doing the right thing. When we do not retaliate, we show God's love to those who persecute us.

Reference: The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version

© 2016 Carola Finch


Michelle Clairday from Arkansas on January 11, 2016:

Great article on turning the other cheek. Very well thought out.

Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 11, 2016:

Thanks for your comments. I agree that turning the other cheek is the way to peace.

mabelhenry from Harrisburlg, Pennsylvania on January 11, 2016:

Excellent hub....It is all about hearing what Jesus has laid out for us to do and adhere our lives to every word. The noisiest force on the planet is sin and darkness. Darkness is screaming and shouting at us all the time. Violence, chaos, wars, and all the other loud noises it makes. The consolation is the light, choosing to walk in the light, just as you have so mindfully articulated through this hub. Turning the other cheek is the road to peace even when the road is crooked. Thank you for sharing what is only something the Spirit of God could have revealed to you. Have a great week and continue to follow the light of the world (The Lord Jesus Christ).

Lori Colbo from United States on January 11, 2016:

I love that you explained what turning the other cheek is not. Good for you for not retsiating. I am proud of you.

Kiss andTales on January 11, 2016:

I agree to your hub , very true vengeance belongs to God because he can see why the situation happen , he can read the heart of motives of all people envolved, even though we may be the target of anothers anger, or injustice

Only God who created us all can judge in justice , and with a perfection we as humans are not capable of.

Some times vengeance by another human can be more cruel then the act some one did to you.

Which does not settle the situation, but can continue in fueds, hatred, and wars.

Example ,the Hatfields and McCoy's

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