Turning The Other Cheek

“To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also” (Luke 6:29)

Why do we find it so easy to retaliate? What is it about human nature that makes us want to make sure the person who hurts us is hurt even more? Even if we don’t act on it, we still wish it and that’s every bit as bad in God’s eyes. Nobody denies the difficulty in turning the other cheek, but that is exactly what Jesus taught. You may be thinking, I know that somewhere in the Bible it says an eye for an eye. And you would be right, but the Old Testament intent for “an eye for an eye” was that of proportional justice, the idea that no matter the social class, the punishment would fit the crime. But sinful people, as they often do, take the intent of a passage, use it out of context, and misrepresent it. Such was the case in the circumstance of the Old Testament references to “an eye for an eye” approach. It is and never was meant to be a license for payback.

Jesus said, “To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also” (Luke 6:29). No, Jesus wasn’t kidding! In fact, in the verses just prior, He said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27–28).

Today, as you go through your day and people strike you on the cheek, some lightly and some not so lightly, resist the temptation to retaliate. To love your enemies is a command. To turn the other cheek is a command. But most importantly is who it is that gave the command. He is the one who expressed love for His enemies and a willingness to be humiliated by turning the other cheek like no other. His name is Jesus.

 Prayer

Thank You, heavenly Father for Your Word. I confess my failure to take Your Word seriously on this issue. Forgive me and help me do what is unnatural in my own strength to do. Help me to please You and love those who strike out at me. After all, You loved me first. Amen.

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Suffering: The Reality, Purpose and Promise

“When God allows suffering and trials in our lives, sometimes it’s for us to unlearn something and simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is like that of a child.”  – Oswald Chambers – 

It’s not that we should desire to suffer or go through trials, but we do need to accept this truth of what Scripture teaches. As God’s people, we must be prepared to suffer, because suffering is certain.  

–          “Many are the afflictions of the righteous…”  (Psalm 34:19)  

–          “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)  

–          “and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s co-worker in the gospel of Christ, to   establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions.  For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.” (1 Thessalonians 3:2-3) 

–          “For to this (suffering) you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you…” (1 Peter 2:21)   

–          “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12) 

However, equally certain to suffering, is not only God’s sustaining grace through it, but also His Divine purpose in it. One purpose according to Chambers is that we simplify our beliefs. We should never outgrow our dependence on God, and often, trials are to ensure that we don’t. One of the biggest mistakes we make as Christians when encountering an unbelieving world is to not be prepared to answer why a loving God would allow His people to suffer. Sometimes, the best answer comes when they see you, His child, display that grace in your deepest time of need. Trust that God’s grace is always sufficient, His purposes always right, and that He will be with you each step of the way. You can, because He keeps all His promises.    

–          “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:9) 

–          “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5) 

–          “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

From Whom Are We Now Seeking Our Independence?

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34) 

                On Thursday, we celebrate the independence of our nation. As the early settlers charted the course of our nation, they had no shame concerning the things of God. The first line in the Mayflower Compact was, “In the name of God, Amen” and when the Pilgrims’ signed it in 1620, they acknowledged God’s sovereignty and sought to glorify Him. Our founding fathers believed the truths of the Bible and acknowledged their faith in God as they wrote the Constitution. Many prominent universities were founded on the Word of God. God is in our pledge and it is “in Him” we claim to trust on our currency. But given the current state of affairs in our country, can we say that He is in our hearts? As we reflect this July 4th, we might ask, from whom are we now seeking our independence?          

            “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings. Proverbs 14:34 teaches that actions aligned with God’s standards exalt or “lift up” a nation while sin is a disgrace. The United States has been richly blessed. Throughout our history, we have taken up the cause for much that is right and good. But have we, in our pride, forgotten what David wrote in Psalm 8:4, “What is man that you are mindful of him”, that as great as God is, it’s amazing He would take notice of and care for us. Have we really come to believe that “man is the measure of all things”, that we determine what is right and true? Perhaps we have. Today, many deny His sovereignty. Many of those educational institutions that were founded on the Word of God are now major influencers in denying Him. Our Creator, whom we used to hold close, we now appear to be, in increasing measure, pushing away. It will make you wonder if there is any reason for hope for our nation.

            But there is hope! There is always hope because our hope lies, not in our government or our courts, but in a sovereign God. Nothing that happens ever happens outside of His control. We hope, knowing God will preserve His people through times such as these. We hope, knowing that God is building His church and nothing can stop Him.

            It’s easy to get discouraged, confused and quite frankly, angry by recent events and our nations progressive departure from God’s will. But it’s also important to remember the greater the darkness the greater the opportunity for the light of the gospel of Christ to shine. The opportunity and privilege we have as Christians is to display what the gospel has done in our own lives, to remember who we were before Christ saved us (an enemy of God), and to let what He has graciously done in our hearts motivate us in our witness. The gospel is not only for those whose sins are different from ours, but for all of our sins. Pray that in a time of increasing darkness the gospel would go forth and trust that it would bring a harvest. Pray that our nation would realign with the will of God and instead of seeking our independence from Him, we would reaffirm our dependence on Him. “If my people who are called by name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

 Prayer

Father, as a nation we have strayed. We have strayed in so many ways on so many issues. Forgive us. Help us to pursue righteousness and let Your glory be our desire. Thank You God for forgiving me for my sin. Thank You for Jesus Christ whose perfect atonement cleanses all sin. Let our nation exalt Him above all. Thank You for Your grace and mercy. Let us be a people who seek to please You alone. Amen!