Why is turning the other cheek so hard? Is it pride, anger, self-righteousness or ego? And where, Oh, where do my Christian morals and values go when someone ticks me off, hurts my feelings or does me wrong?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 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. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Matthew 5:38-42
To be honest, when I’m wronged the verse above is not my first reaction. In fact, my thoughts swiftly run to fantasies of mutilation, torture and death. My words become inventive and x-rated. My heart turns to complete stone with forgiveness held at arms’ reach. And you should hear the door slamming that occurs when Meg’s not happy – it’s quite the temper tantrum…sigh.
Come ON!!!! Where is my self-discipline and self-control? How do I jump off the ‘love my neighbor as myself’ cliff so quickly? And most importantly, what happened to trusting God?
When this occurs, I am grieved by my behavior and consequently sink into a hole of depression, low self-esteem, and loneliness. The devil has won this particular battle on too many occasions to count. Obedience has never been one of my strong points.
However, God is amazing. God is true and God is love. Plus, He is the only One who can heal me, change me and protect me. BUT…repentance, obedience and trust are REQUIRED.
Last Sunday, the sermon at my church was based on the forgiveness Jesus gave to one of the thieves hanging next to him on the cross. The lesson pierced my heart because Jesus recognized the thief’s repentance and promised the thief that he would be with Jesus in paradise that day. (Check out the whole story in Luke 23:39-43). Talk about a death-bed confession!!
Jesus had every right to tell the thief he was getting what he deserved. BUT HE DIDN’T. He forgave the repentant thief and promised paradise!!
Do I forgive without delay? Um…no (I think we’ve already covered that). I get on my high-horse and stroll down the path towards martyrdom. I feel justified in my cause because I’m hurt and you caused it.
What a crock of crud that is! Where are my mercy, compassion and understanding? Where is MY forgiveness to others like Jesus????
How am I any different than the worst murderer in the world? I may not throw acid on Pakistani women, but don’t I say hateful words, lie, gossip, envy and so on? Who am I to withhold forgiveness unless I would like forgiveness withheld from myself?
Sure I don’t want to think that I’m in the category of the ‘really bad’ people of the world (i.e. murderers, rapists, etc.), BUT I AM. I screw up. I hurt people. I turn away from God. It’s all the same. I ignore God and disobey Him regularly.
Yet, I often hear myself judge others and hold myself on a higher pedestal. Not good.
I have found plenty of examples in the Bible where Jesus talks about forgiveness: forgive your brother 77 times (Matthew 18:21-22), don’t judge so you will not be judged (Matthew 7:1-5), be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32), love your enemies (Luke 6:27). There are many more, but you get the idea.
So what can I do about this character flaw of mine?
- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
- Ask God to soften my heart so that I may be sensitive to the leading of His Holy Spirit. – love this prayer!!! And it works every time!
- Trust God to be just and merciful. I can’t wish everyone to get their due because that would mean I deserve my punishment, as well. Hard to think about it that way!!!
One would think that as I grow in Christ, my behaviors would change. They do, except it’s just not always easy. My prayer is that God will continue to lead me back onto the right path when I jump off the cliff 😮
God definitely has His work cut out for Him with me, but I trust HIM that He knows exactly what to do because HE knows exactly who I am!!! (See Psalm 139)
Do you forgive others easily? Do you hold onto resentment and bitterness or do you let God handle your worries?
Some Wisdom for Today: Proverbs 24:29 – Do not say, “I’ll do to him as he has done to me. I’ll pay that man back for what he did.”