What Does Turning the Other Cheek Mean, Exactly?


I believe for most of my life I’ve gotten the idea of turning the other cheek wrong. As Jesus instructs us in Matthew 5:39 (NLT) , “But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.”

The problem was I allowed the idea of turning the other cheek to mean being submissive to the point of being trampled on. In an instance of wrong doing, I’d walk away without a word confusing myself and probably the other person as well.

What It Really Means

Now, I realize that’s not the meaning at all.  In times of accusations, where in the past I would walk off when a personal affront was made, now I’ve had to confront the evil with love while standing face-to-face with the other person and most likely being vulnerable to another slap.  Of course I’ve found whenever I’m learning a lesson, God serves up real-life tests and so on more than one occasion in the past few weeks both of my cheeks have been slapped.  I’d like to say that I’ve passed the test I’ve been served so far but I’m not sure I have.  This lesson is a hard one.  To respond in a loving manner to someone who has committed an evil against you, who is non-repentant, and who may try to blame the evil on you, seems downright impossible. So what does responding in love really look like?

Responding In Love

What I’m coming to believe is that turning the other cheek looks like responding back to that person in a receptive manner with love in your heart. It means to stay and talk things out rather than running off or ignoring the offense. This response may result in your other cheek getting slapped as the offending person continues to fire arrows at you. I believe that you stand firm anyway knowing that your roots are deep in the ground and can’t be swayed by wrongdoing. You know the truth in your own heart and love will continue to shine through you despite the marks on your face.

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