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.
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also (Matthew 5:39).
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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It is good to seek peace with all, and pursue it. If we do wrong to someone we need to sincerely apologise and seek to heal that person.
It’s really interesting to me, all the evil or persecution that ever comes to us, God knows of. It’s all set up, teaching us leading us down the straight and narrow that is humble, kind and sincere.
In Revelation, the seven angels “stood before the throne” preparing themselves to sound their trumpets. Before the throne of God all these evils will be unleashed. This is always so amazing to me.
So I guess no matter how hard they smite us, I like to remember God is in control, and I know I deserve a lot worse than that.
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You bring up important points: We need to focus on our own wrongs and try to right them, and any wrong we endure is far less severe than we deserve. That perspective is also important. My focus was on the resurrection and how we have freedom from the effects of others, and we do not know if they have freedom from how we affect them negatively. We should have faith in our resurrection, and never do things that kill others if we really want to experience the healing of the resurrection presently (I’m just re-emphasizing in case I did not make that clear enough).
Even so, what you say relates, because these kinds of perspectives are what prevent the negative affects from taking root and growing within us, and when we sincerely try to right our own wrongs, we are doing our part to bring healing to others. These perspectives are results of fruit of the Spirit, right? Which are fruits of life — fruits of the resurrection. It all comes together. Thanks for the comment.
I wonder though, what do you mean about the “evils” the seven angels will unleash as each trumpet sounds? I don’t see these as evil. I think man will, but God’s judgments are good. I think I am misunderstanding your meaning here.
It just occurred to me that maybe you say this to point to the fact that instead of the “world devouring itself” as I wrote, it will be God that brings the final tribulation. I don’t know if that is why you wrote this, but just in case, and in case someone else wonders why I wrote that, I was thinking about the scripture like Mark 13:12 and Revelation 6:4.
Amen, to newness in us now and the resurrection.
My point was just to remember God is in control. Whether someone’s smiting us on the cheek, or calamitous meteors are falling to the earth causing death and destruction God’s in control. It amazes me. The angels in Revelation do not bring blessing , but evil or calamity, yes judgement. God’s judgement is good.
I always desire the resurrection to be in me now. Newness of life now. His Spirit is alive, Jesus rose from the dead, He raises us now in newness of life. Yes!!!!!
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Agreed. It is amazing to think about how all things are working according to God’s plan.
While studying martial arts, I’ve run across a parable that helped me process this. I’ve heard the actions attributed to a few legendary or near legendary martial figures (Wang Lung, Ip Man, Wing Chung, even Ed Parker) so I’ll just say Wang Lang because I like Praying Mantis Kung Fu.
The great master Wang Lang came into a city as he was traveling. The local thug had heard of him and insisted on learning who was the superior fighter. Wang Lang said he had no reason to fight, but the thug insisted. Master Wang tried to get the police involved, but they were afraid of the local thug and his gang. Finally, the thug said that if Master Wang wasn’t going to fight, then Master Wang should just get on all fours so that the thug and his gang of twelve could urinate on him. Master Wang considered the gang, then agreed to their terms.
The next day, the gang was threatening am old man at the tea house, and Master Wang felt compelled to get involved. Things escalated quickly, and soon it was twelve knives against two hands and two feet. Master Wang sent every member of the gang to the hospital, broken wrists and ribs and femurs handed out like failing grades in one of his classes.
Later, the old man asked Master Wang, “Why did you submit to them yesterday if even armed they weren’t any match for you?”
The master answered, “Yesterday, my only reason to act was fear and anger. Today, I acted to protect you. I am not a slave to my fear it my anger. I’m a slave to my care for others.”
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Thanks for sharing that story. I like that. I definitely think standing up for those who cannot defend themselves is necessary. This is what I would consider as a time to speak or take some kind of action, but if possible, we should do so gently. Force is last resort. For me, I’m trying to overcome the evils of this world, particularly those of the Christian faith by boldly declaring the truth and seeking the Lord so that I am living it also. If questions arise because people see or read things that go against what they have been taught in church, for example, then I will explain. There might come a time when force is required, but today is not that day. Thanks for the thoughts!
Because of your thought provoking posts, I have nominated you for a “Liebster Award”. It is an award aimed at recognizing up and coming bloggers and having fun. The link above is to my post where I answered some questions given me, then generated a few for you to answer. It also contains a link to official rules. I’m always willing to help high quality bloggers along the way. If nothing else, please know that I really enjoy reading your posts and feel other people would benefit from them, too.
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Wow, thank you. I’m honored.