You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”  But I tell you not to resist an evil person.

– Matthew 5:38-39


When Nobel Chairman Gunnar John delivered his presentation speech for Martin Luther King’s 1964 Peace Prize, he quoted Jesus: “Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt. 5:39).  As Mr. John noted: “It was not because he led a racial minority in their struggle for equality that Martin Luther King achieved fame. . .  [His] name will endure for the way in which he has waged his struggle.”


In 1955, King had led a year-long, peaceful boycott to protest segregation on buses.  He paid a high price.  His home was bombed, and he was assaulted and arrested.  He never retaliated.  Eventually he was murdered.


How contrary Dr. King’s peaceful example stands to my fleshly nature!  I want justice now.  I want retribution.  I want others to pay for their wrongdoing, especially when it’s directed at me.  What I do not want is to turn the other cheek and invite them to take another’s swing.


Haddon Robinson comments on the lofty standard Jesus set forth in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), calling them “goals. . . not impossible ideals.  [Jesus] wants His disciples to strive toward these goals to master a new kind of life.”


Amid the injustices of life, may we have the courage, faith, and strength to turn the other cheek.

– Tim Gustafson

It takes true strength to refuse to retaliate.


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