Don't Be a Doormat
July 19, 2010
Matthew 5:39 "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."
Whoever said Christians are supposed to be doormats? A doormat is something that gets walked all over by other people, never being considered. No one likes to be a doormat. You've undoubtedly experienced others' inconsideration for you and your feelings. It's no fun and if you don't stand up for yourself, the other person might continue to walk all over you--forever. I can't find any scripture that suggests you, as a Christian, should be a doormat, watching as others take and take and take from you. But then I read this annoying scripture that says, "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Turn the other cheek? Does scripture really advocate being a doormat? Should you or should you not stand up for your rights and protect yourself from others both physically and emotionally? It depends on how well you understand scripture.
To better grasp the correct understanding of the "turn the other cheek" teaching of Christianity, we need to read the verses around them, in the same chapter of Matthew (5). There is a scripture (Matt. 5:5) that reads, "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." Being meek does not mean being weak. The true definition of being meek is withstanding insult or injury with patience, perseverance, and without resentment. It is being strong enough to withstand it freely, not being weak enough to not do anything about it. Then, just a few verses later, Scripture talks about turning the other cheek. Turning the other cheek suggests you are strong enough to do so, able to bear it willingly. It is an act of sacrifice, giving something up as opposed to someone taking it from you.
If we keep reading in the same chapter, the lesson develops further when Jesus talks about loving your enemies in verse 44. "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." This "enemy" is the same person who is considered the "evil person" in that initial, annoying verse, "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." The evil person is not necessarily a Satan worshiper, but simply any human being not functioning as God intended (even Christians, sometimes). Regardless of who is trying to take advantage of you, though, it is up to you to be strong enough to allow them the opportunity to either repent or be dealt with by God. This is the understanding you must live with, if you are going to be strong enough to be meek.
I can say all this because Jesus brings the lesson full circle in verse 45. God says if you do this, (turn the other cheek and pray for that enemy), you will "be sons [and daughters] of your Father in heaven." God's promise laid out for you, when you decide to correctly turn the other cheek (bearing it freely and without resentment), is found in understanding the phrase ". . . sons of your Father in heaven." Sons have the full rights of the father, which include the father's protection. Sons also have the full rights of the father's inheritance. Remember the verse "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." When you are a son of God, you gain His inheritance, but God asks you to be meek until that day comes. Turning the other cheek is not being week or becoming a doormat, it is enduring difficult relationships and circumstances in a willing manner, knowing your reward is an inheritance in Heaven with Him.
By the way, God also says, ""It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord." Go ahead and turn the other cheek; God's wrath for their actions will be far greater than anything you can do to them.
1. How can you correctly apply "turn the other cheek" in your life?
2. Who is the "evil person" that maybe you should stop resisting?
3. How can you be strong and still demonstrate meekness?
Don't take my word for it; study it for yourself: Deut 32:35, Ps 82:3, Matt 5, Luke 6:28-30, Rom 12:19, Heb 10:30
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Don't Be a Doormat