Wow! You actually opened this?! I figured the title would warrant it an immediate deletion.
Well now that youâ€™re here, you might want to buckle your seat belt because weâ€™re about to go to war with our flesh and Satan.
First of all, as a way of confession, I like getting even. Better yet, I like getting ahead. There was a time in my life (my daughter Becky calls it my heathen days) where a wrong look from you brought the wrath of me. I ashamedly admit, ashamedly in that I hurt so many people, that fighting was a form of entertainment for me, particularly in the military.
But when Jesus saved me He took away my desire to fight except in self-defense. I must admit I didnâ€™t like this part of the Sermon on the Mount, even after I was first saved. Nevertheless (remember, live there) we need to look at this passage from Matthew because although I have been rescued from it, I still struggle with wanting to get even, as Iâ€™m sure some of you do also:
â€œYou have heard that it was said, â€˜An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.â€™ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.â€ (Matthew 5:38-42)
Guess which part I didnâ€™t like? Yes, the turning the other cheek part, until I learned what it actually meant. Wiersbe puts it this way:
â€œJesus replaced a law with an attitude: be willing to suffer loss yourself rather than cause another to suffer. Of course, He applied this to personal insults, not to groups or nations. The person who retaliates only makes himself and the offender feel worse; and the result is a settled war not peace. In order to â€˜turn the other cheek,â€™ we must stay where we are and not run away. This demands both faith and love. It also means the we will be hurt, but it is better to be hurt on the outside than to be harmed on the inside. But it further means we should help the sinner.â€
How do you help the sinner by giving up your right to yourself? Because the offender is expecting retaliation. Jesus was changing the law found in Leviticus:
â€œIf a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to himâ€”fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him.â€ (Leviticus 24:19-20)
It is not easy being a Christian and thatâ€™s okay. It wasnâ€™t easy for King Jesus to be the Christ here on earth. Just look at what He endured the day of His crucifixion. He could have stopped the suffering immediately and wiped out the entire Roman Army, the Jewish leaders, and all those who called for His execution. But Jesus was there for them as much as He was there for you and me. Thatâ€™s a lesson we shake our heads yes to but close off our hearts from learning.
Beloved, bitterness and holding a grudge is Satanâ€™s salve for our wounded heart. Thereâ€™s one problem with that; the salve doesnâ€™t heal. People always say that time heals all wounds; thatâ€™s nonsense. Time only heals wounds that have been tended to; unattended wounds festers and get infected over time, and left unattended they bring gangrene and rots you from the inside out.
Who has hurt you? Have you forgiven them? Have you told them? That grudge youâ€™re holding onto tightly today seems like a teddy bear but one day youâ€™ll come to yourself and realize itâ€™s a porcupine.
Monday weâ€™re going to learn another hard lesson; how to love our enemies. But before you can love your enemies, you have to forgive them and give up the right to yourself. That is a true sign of Christ living in us. That is why Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. The Apostle Paul formalized Jesusâ€™ teaching here in a practical manner:
â€œRepay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.â€ (Romans 12:17)
It may seem like forever since we last saw Matthew 5:11, so letâ€™s look at it again:
â€œBlessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.â€ (Matthew 5:11)
Again, do not think I am underestimating the difficulty of this teaching; I of all people know better. But this is the sign of a true Christian. I love what Oswald Chambers wrote about turning the other cheek:
These verses reveal the humiliation of being a Christian. Naturally, if a man does not hit back, it is because he is a coward; but spiritually if a man does not hit back, it is a manifestation of the Son of God in him. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but make it an occasion to exhibit the Son of God. You cannot imitate the disposition of Jesus; it is either there or it is not. To the saint personal insult becomes the occasion of revealing the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.
Wow! Are you a real Christian or not. Chambers says we â€œcannot imitate the disposition of Jesus.â€ Are you real or fake? Are you holding a grudge against someone right now? A parent, a child, a sibling, a neighbor, an co-worker? Whomever it is, itâ€™s time to make things right.
Do this weekend, do it today for that matter. And donâ€™t forget to go to church on Sunday to give God glory for the reconciliation He has brought in your life.
Have a blessed weekend!
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Copyright Â© 2011 David Jeffers