I am right-handed. My husband and daughter are right-handed. My son however is left-handed. Statistics show that seventy to ninety percent of the population are right-handed. Some are considered ambidextrous – using either hand. Only a small percentage of the population is left-handed.
If I took my predominate right hand and slapped someone on their right cheek, it would be a backhanded slap, which represents an insult in the Bible.
If someone slapped me, my natural (worldly) instinct would be to slap them back, leading to more violence. But Jesus teaches just the opposite. In Matthew 5:39, He says, “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
As we have been learning in this series, Jesus taught many things that are backward to worldly teachings. Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, give away our worldly possessions, and to be humble, just to name a few.
Go back to verse 38 where Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” It is important to read the verses before and after when studying Scripture. Who is Jesus speaking to? What was the culture at the time? People were taking revenge on those that had done them wrong, often punishing harder than the offense. Instead of leaving the punishment up to the authorities, they were taking matters into their own hands. They were used to seeking their own revenge. Go all the way back to the beginning. Cain took matters into his own hands and took revenge by killing Abel just four chapters into the first book of the Bible. Jesus taught to not only not take revenge, but “turn to him the other also.” Overdo it on the side of kindness and then let God handle it. Romans 12:19 reminds us, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
“But I say to you” is Jesus telling us “this is what the world tells you, but my ways are different than the world’s ways.”
“We are called to be world changers,
not world chasers.”
Jesus Himself was accused of things he did not do, beaten, tortured (Matthew 26:27 and many others), yet He did not fight back. In 1 Peter 2:23 (NIV), it says, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate.”
If you are in a right relationship with God, you understand that you will endure trials, people will “slap you,” insult you, and you will want to “slap” back. However, if we trust that there is a purpose for the trial, that God is in control, and He will handle it in His timing, we should humble ourselves and let Him handle it. By doing so, we are showing others (the world) the love that we need to exhibit to show them Jesus.
Let us follow Jesus’ example and not “slap back.”