The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most important aspects of the Christian faith, and the significance of this event has much application to our lives as Christians. Therefore, I want to write some articles about how we might apply the resurrection to our daily lives. I’m sure I will write about the final application of the resurrection, which of course is being raised from dead after our flesh dies. However, today I’m thinking about something else.
Today, I’m thinking about faith in the resurrection as a way to overcome the temptation to act vengefully.
Learning to “turn the other cheek” is, in my opinion, one of the hardest commandments of Jesus. It is for me at least. When someone treats me with disrespect or disregard without repentance, I can get very upset, and it’s tempting to respond in kind. However, that is not what we are to do.
How do we allow people to treat us hatefully or otherwise unjustly—and just sit there and take it. Again. And Again. And Again?
Well, for starters, we need the Holy Spirit to show us how to respond to each individual circumstance. There is a time to speak up (as long as we react in a Christian way), and there is a time to stay silent and wait on the Lord. He will show us what is required, and learning this is part of the exercising in righteous judgment we discussed not long ago.
However, there will most likely be people in our lives who God has hardened towards us for one reason or another. How do we deal with these people?
For one, it’s about having faith in God. God is in control of all things, and it is He who opens hearts to His truth and it is He who hardens hearts. If someone seems unreasonable or continues to make things hard on us, it is because God has purposed it.
That might seem hard to understand. Why would God want someone to treat us badly? One thing we know is that all things are coming together for our good (Romans 8:28). We also know that tribulation works patience (Romans 5:3). As Christians, we are also on a constant journey upward in the things of the kingdom of heaven. So, dealing with difficult people is just par for the course. Jesus did it, and we should expect to also (John 15:20).
Therefore, if we learn to trust in the Lord’s purposes, and if we can even take it a step further and be thankful for the hardship, then we will have some inner peace that will allow us to endure all difficulty, not just persecution from people. This is not something that is easy to do, which brings me to this point about the resurrection.
The promise of the resurrection means a few different things for Christians. It means that Jesus will raise us from all death, including changing our natures from sin that brings death so that we can thrive within the kingdom of God presently. What does this have to do with turning the other cheek?
If someone treats us badly, we need to have faith in the Lord to help us deal with people in patience as he would want us to. We are to be those who bring life, not death. Responding to evil with evil is not the Christian way, and vengeance belongs to God alone (Romans 12:19).
Secondly, if someone harms us emotionally, we are not bound to the lasting effects. We are not bound to the resulting anger, bitterness, resentment, self-loathing, and all the like that often result from abuse. We have the resurrection! We have healing that will renew our minds, so we should never conform to this world and meet evil with evil.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2).
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
While the things we do to others will damage them, possibly long-term—thereby killing parts of them spiritually and leading them further down the path of destruction, we have the resurrection. No dead thing can harm us if we really believe in this power offered to Christians through the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, we should always turn the other cheek. God will avenge us. The Lord will heal our inner wounds, and if we respond in the Christian way, we have a better chance of leading difficult people to the Lord. There is much wisdom to the commandment to “turn the other cheek.”
Though it seems impossible, if we seek the Lord he will exercise us in this, and no matter what comes our way and to what degree we must stay in patience and faith, we have the resurrection—even if our lives are required for the sake of keeping the commandments of Jesus Christ.
There will come a day when the world devours itself, and we do not want to get caught up in this. That is why we are made to go through these things now. We have to learn to trust in the Lord for all things and know that he rewards those who believe in him and walk in his ways. How much more when walking in his ways means turning the other cheek until our lives are forfeit, just like him?
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