Why Turn the Other Cheek?
by David J. Stewart
Luke 6:29, “And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.”
God is not saying in Luke 6:29 that we should let people abuse us. That is not what the context of this Scripture teaches. I've heard some people quote this Scripture to say that believers ought not to defend themselves, but should let people mistreat them. However, when one of Caiaphas' (the high priest) officers struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, Jesus said: “why smitest thou me?” (John 18:23). Jesus didn't turn the other cheek to be hit again; He said, Hey buster, why did you hit me?
In Matthew 5:44 Jesus taught, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Albeit, standing up for your rights as a human being is not wrong. The Lord teaches us to bless those who curse us, and do good to them that hate us, and to pray for people who use us, and persecute us. But Jesus didn't mean in Luke 6:29 for us to let someone hit us twice without trying to defend ourselves against bodily harm. Only a nut teaches something like that.
Jesus could have called more than 72,000 angels the Bible says to rescue Him (Matthew 26:53), and I'm sure He could have called tens-of-millions if He wanted; but the Lord knew it was the Father's will for Him to go to the cross to die for men's sins, and so Jesus obeyed unto death. Philippians 2:8, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
The True Meaning of Luke 6:29
Having laid the foundation. I would like to explain to you the proper context of Luke 6:29. What is God referring to? The Bible is speaking about righting our wrongs. Notice the same truth taught in Matthew 5:39...
“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. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.” (Matthew 5:39,40)
Notice that the Bible mentions being sued. Question: why would someone want to sue another person? Obviously because someone did them wrong (or at least they think someone did them wrong). The Bible is teaching us to settle out of court. God is saying that we should make things right if we have wronged someone. If we believe we have not wronged them, then we must go to court to defend ourselves because they are taking us to court, we have no choice. However, the Bible advises us not to sue a fellow believer in court; but rather, to allow ourselves to be defrauded, knowing that God will avenge us on Judgment Day (1st Thessalonians 4:6).
We are better off placing the matter into God's hands and letting Him deal with the offender in His own time and way. We have a PROMISE from God in Romans...
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
God promises to AVENGE us of our enemies. Likewise, he promises to avenge our enemies of us as well if we have wronged them. The word “repay” in the Greek means “to punish.” God will punish wrongdoers. But you say, my sins are under the blood, I'm forgiven, God can't punish me for my sins, Jesus suffered for me. Yes, that is absolutely true; however, just because you're a Christian doesn't mean you'll get away with anything! Proverb 24:12 is clear on this matter, “If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?”
You see friend, you must still appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:10-11). We all must give account to God on Judgment Day (Romans 14:12). The Bible says that GOD WILL REPAY. If this is not true, then we might as well go live it up in sin as believers. No, we will reap that which we have sowed in this life. 2nd Corinthians 5:10 plainly states that every believer will be judged for the GOOD and the BAD done in the body. No one will be allowed to point fingers on Judgment Day, because God knows THE TRUTH about everyone, down to our very thoughts. That's why Proverb 24:12 says that God pondereth the heart. God knows whether we are sincere or not. God is omniscient (all knowing). There will be no need for juries in Heaven, because God KNOWS the truth about everyone and everything.
Jesus Came into the World to Make Things Right, Because We Couldn't
For a person to want to hit or sue someone usually means that a wrong has been committed. We are commanded to make things right by our Lord. Jesus said to turn the other cheek, meaning that if we are in the wrong, we should be willing to go out of our way to make things right as much as possible. Of course, there is no way that we could ever make things right with God in our own strength, because no amount of good can undo the bad. That's the whole reason why Jesus came into the world and went to Calvary, to make things right because we couldn't. Jesus paid a debt that He did not owe, because we owed a debt of sin that we could not pay.
Perhaps there are wrongs in your past that you simply cannot undo. Perhaps there are people angry at you, who will never forgive you. The Devil will try to use that to discourage you. Never let anyone discourage you concerning past failures, sins and mistakes. If you have come to the foot of the cross as a guilty sinner, believing upon the precious blood of Jesus to wash away your sins (1st John 1:7), then you are justified in the eyes of God... JUST-IF-I'D never sinned! Amen!
In the Old Testament, king David had sinned horribly. David stole a man's wife and then had her husband murdered to hide an unwanted pregnancy. How could the man after God's own heart do such a thing? Yet, even after David's horrible sin God used him to pen the book of Psalms. David had repented and God forgave Him, but he suffered reproach the rest of his life because of his sins. People threw rocks and dust at David (2nd Samuel 16:13). David's enemies would never let him live it down. At some point David realized that even though God had forgiven him, many people never would. David said in Psalm 51:4, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” David realized that sin is only against God, for sin is the breaking of God's Laws. Even if people wouldn't forgive David, God certainly did. This is an important truth to learn.
It was David's very sins that made it possible to write the Psalm 51, and others. God knew that David would sin horribly before He ever told Samuel to anoint David as the future king of Israel. God knew that Peter would curse the name of Jesus and deny Christ 3 times before Peter was ever formed in the womb. Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God could have just cast us all into Hell forever to burn with the demons for our sins; but hallelujah, Jesus loves us and was willing to give His life and blood, knowing every rotten thing we would ever become or do. The Bible says that all mankind is sinful (Ecclesiastes 7:20).
Jesus came into the world to make things right because we cannot. Certainly, we should be diligent to make restitution with anyone we have wronged, and seek reconciliation if possible. However, just as a feather pillow that is broken apart on a tall building, and then you try to gather up all the feathers in vain; so likewise is there no way humanly possible for everyone to right all their wrongs. I don't care how much you may try, some people will hate you, and condemn you, and wait to urinate on your grave when the last nail is pounded into your coffin. All that matters is that you are right with God by the blood of Jesus. Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” What a wonderful Savior!
Be Careful About Finances
I believe we should all try to avoid placing ourselves in horrible situations where we are liable for damages. I never borrow money. I just don't. I believe in the old saying, “Use it up, wear it out; make it last, do without.” I hate credit cards but have one for convenience. My balance is ZERO. I owe nothing. I hate owing anyone even a dollar. I will live as simple as necessary to ensure that I'm not always in the dog house financially. I have never been paid a penny for serving God, nor do I ever want to. I sell nothing. God called me to be a preacher, not a salesman. If I'm going to use any type of methods or tactics, it will be to get people saved while out soul-winning; and not to make filthy-lucre as so many people today live for. I love God, not mammon (money). The Bible says you CANNOT serve God and money.
People buy insurance, so we can reimburse others for losses sustained. Christians are wise to buy insurance because it protects other people as well as them self. A Christian who drives a car without insurance is a fool. Also, I think it is foolish to lend out your car. I once had a friend ask to borrow my car so he could go get a haircut, I told him no way. I'm not going to risk my insurance record if he wrecks my car. I was being his friend that day. He was foolish to risk damaging someone else's vehicle for his own personal benefit. I have always tried to steer clear of stuff like that. If a person crashes while driving your car, you can still be sued because it is your car. You can't be too careful these days.
By the way, I rarely lend money to anyone. Why? Because I simply don't have money to lend out that I don't need back. Too many people lack the character to pay back what they borrow, and on time. If someone doesn't want to be my friend because I refuse to lend them money, then I know they are only a “fair-weather friend” anyway. I don't need phony so-called friends like that. I think it is unwise to lend out money. Arguments over money has destroyed countless families and friendships. It's an emotional, touchy, and often greed-driven subject. I refuse to talk about money with people. I hate it. I don't want it. Money is a necessary evil. If I have it, ok; if not, that's ok too, God will provide for me. If you can afford to lend money out and not be offended when it doesn't return, then this is the only basis upon which you should lend out money. I don't lend out anything that I'm not willing to give away. That's just me. I do give things away quite often, including money, but that's from the Lord Jesus dwelling in my heart. I love Jesus so much!
Conclusion of the Matter
In Luke 6:29 the Bible teaches for us to go ABOVE and BEYOND the damages we may have caused someone to make things right. If you inconvenienced someone, then you should make it up to them. If you cause someone financial loss, then you should willingly pay for their losses (and then some). If you borrow something and it become stolen or broken while in your possession, then you should buy the best replacement available for your neighbor (or work out some arrangement with the person you borrowed it from). Sadly, family members tend to take advantage of other family members more than anybody. This is very wrong. Every man is my neighbor, and I am to treat every living sole the same way I would like to be treated. This is the GOLDEN RULE taught in Matthew 7:12.
Matthew 5:39 and Luke 6:29 are concerned with righting our wrongs, no more. If someone tries to hit me in the cheek for no reason, I am going to defend myself. I am not going to let someone hurt me. Christians are not supposed to be pacifists. Jesus was a carpenter. He didn't have power tools. I think Jesus was a muscular man. Jesus walked this earth as a man's man, anything but the effeminate wimp that is often portrayed through modern art. God did not intend for us to let people abuse us.
However, If I am at fault, then it's a whole different ballgame entirely and I want to right my wrongs quickly. As a Christian I'm going to go out of my way, even to unreasonable extremes if need be, to make restitution and reconciliation. I cannot be right vertically with God, if I'm not first right horizontally with man. I will try to make things right. There is always something we can do to make things right, even if nothing more than to make peace with God.
Turning one's cheek means going out of our way to right our wrongs. If someone sues us, God say to give him or her our coat also, if they need it, as a token of one's sincerity that you truly want to make restitution, and not just because the court forced you do do so. God wants us as His children to live by the Spirit, instead of by the letter of the Law. The Sprit of God is based upon one's love for God and love for his neighbor, to where court intervention would not even be necessary if either one of the two men loved one another.