Immediately following His arrest, Jesus was interrogated by the high priest. When He provided an “unsatisfactory” answer, one of the officials struck Him in the face. Instead of literally offering His other cheek to be slapped, the Savior calmly challenged the man’s unjust action. The Lord did not defend Himself or retaliate, but He also refused to accept the abuse unquestioningly, despite the fact that He knew He would receive more (John 18:21-23).
The Bible passage telling us to turn the other cheek confuses many Christians. Are we to stand still while someone beats us up physically or emotionally? No. But we are not to retaliate in kind. Pride will certainly trigger a desire to take revenge on the coworker who stole credit for our work or the family member who repeatedly says unkind words. Yet we are not to “repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
In daily practice, the situation will determine what form a godly response will take. We may need to ignore the other person’s actions, walk away from abuse, or confront our enemy—confrontation designed to gain understanding and reconciliation is not inappropriate. In fact, Jesus instructs us to transform rivals into friends by means of respectful discourse (Matt. 18:15). Asking “Why do you feel about me as you do?” can reveal the strength of agape—unconditional love—to minister to a hurting soul despite the potential for injury.
Might God be calling you to show agape? Pray for the desire and power to “turn the other cheek” as Christ did.