Most of us have been raised to defend our rights and our opinions and to not accept what others have to give out if it’s contrary to what we believe. When someone says something derogatory about us or even offensive about us, many of us believe that we should stand up for ourselves and not “take it”, that it’s part of the Christian walk to fight against this type of persecution. But is this really what God tells us to do? What about the Biblical cliché, “turn the other cheek”?
There are times in our life when the offences come and they aren’t directly related to a stand we’ve taken for Christ. Sometimes they’re just little darts that the devil loves to throw at us to upset us so he can get a rise out of us. And sometimes we need to just walk away and let the offences roll off of our back, but to do that we need to have a strong character within us that is filled with love and confidence in God.
We will never be able to resist these offences on our own merits because when they happen we become enraged on an emotional level due to the injustice we feel. Many of us will reluctantly act on that impulsive reaction and either say something in defense or do something in retaliation. It’s our reaction that determines our credibility as a Christian, and so we need to walk away and let it pass – turn the other cheek.
How do we turn the other cheek?
When our actions and reactions are controlled by our emotions, we will likely always respond to the offence. But when our thoughts and concerns are on the Lord and His Word, we are able to find strength and forgiveness through His Spirit who lives in us and through the Bible, and we’re able to let it pass. We know that God will balance everything out in the end because in Romans 12:19 He says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” So don’t worry because God will take care of everyone who has hurt us.
When the offence comes, we need to step back, look at it and then pray about it. We need to give it to God. We need to talk to a trusting friend about it and get their encouragement and support. The weight will begin to fall off and we’ll begin to see it from an objective point of view.
Our commission as Christians is to preach the Gospel to those around us and to be a good example – a witness – of what a Christian is – of who Christ is. And nothing will hurt our testimony more than a personal attack on someone who has offended us. When we do this we show the world that we are hypocrites because our actions are no different from the people of the world.
There are some instances where we need to defend ourselves for the sake of clarity, or where we’re approached or challenged because of something that someone misquoted or misinterpreted. There may be times where we’re asked directly for an opinion on something that was said or done against us. This is where we would respond BUT in the same way that the Lord expects us to respond. We would state the issues, clarify the facts and keep a positive and loving attitude at all times.
Again, our response is crucial because we represent the Lord, and we trust the Lord and our confidence is in the Lord that He loves us, sees all things and will judge all things that come against us. The offences will always come and that’s just because we’re Christians in this world – but they’ll come even more often when the devil realizes that he can get us off of our commission and onto a personal war by simply dangling something in front of us that gets us riled.
The offences may hurt us, offend us and even anger us and Jesus acknowledged these emotions in Ephesians 4:26 when He said that we could be angry BUT that we shouldn’t sin regarding it. It’s not these little trials that make us who we are because even the people of the world offend and hurt each other. It’s how we react to them and deal with them that make us the Christians we are, and that gives the glory to God.
We need to turn the other cheek and keep our eyes on the goodness of the Lord and on His Will for our life. We need to let God fulfill His promises to us who love Him and to not allow any offences to separate us from His love.
“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” … Matthew 18:6