"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 against an evil person. If someone hits you on the right cheek, then turn and let him hit the other cheek too."
— Matthew 5:38-39
Jesus' words draw us to the values of our Heavenly Father. Rather than passively accepting evil, we are to overcome evil with good. We are to work redemption in the face of mistreatment like the suffering servant in Isaiah who suffers, serves, and redeems in the face of attack and ridicule. Jesus reminds us that we are to redeem rather than to try to get even. A slap on the cheek in Jesus' day was more a social insult than a physical injury. In our day, we seldom slap someone on the cheek to embarrass or humiliate that person. Instead, we shoot them a "zinger," cut them down sarcastically, or tell a joke at their expense. This is out of bounds for believers. Such talk does not accomplish the redemption God has called us to share with others.
Holy and patient Father, please strengthen me so that I will look for ways to redeem those who shame and humiliate me. I know that vengeance will only poison my heart and alienate me from the insulting party. Give me grace to react with kindness even toward those who are unkind to me. In the name of the one who did not rebuke his accusers I pray. Amen.
Today's Verses in Context
"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 against an evil person. If someone hits you on the right cheek, then turn and let him hit the other cheek too. If a person wants to sue you in court and take your shirt, then let him have your coat too. If a soldier forces you to walk with him one mile, then go with him two miles. If a person asks you for something, then give it to him. Don't refuse to give to a person that wants to borrow from you. "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those people that do bad things to you. If you do this, then you will be true sons of your Father in heaven. Your Father lets the sun rise for the good people and the bad people. Your Father sends rain to people that do good and to people that do wrong. If you love only the people that love you, then you will get no reward. Even the tax collectors do that. And if you are nice only to your friends, then you are no better than other people. Even the people without God are nice to their friends. So you must be perfect, the same as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Related Scripture Readings
Don't let evil defeat you. You should defeat evil by doing good.
The Lord knows everything, even what happens in the place of death. So surely the Lord will know what happens in the hearts and minds of people.
When you talk, don't say any bad things. But say things that people need—things that will help other people become stronger. Then the things you say will help the people who listen to you. And don't make the Holy Spirit sad. The Spirit is God's proof that you belong to God. God gave you that Spirit to show that God will make you free at the right time. Never be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt other people. Never do anything evil. Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you in Christ.