Jesus challenges us to not retaliate in the Jesus Manifesto (Matthew 5-7). It is in our core, when someone hurts us, to strike back. Some, famously, brag about being a “counter-puncher”. That, is not the way of God.
Jesus has a different way. Don’t hit back at all. Just take it. Agree with your adversary.
God has a goal in mind for us. Jesus has higher standards for us than what the world expects.
Jesus expects us to be full of the love of God.
Love acts differently. Love is kind and patient. Love does not retaliate.
May I love like God. May I not be defensive and retaliate.
“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. | Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (Matthew 5:38–42). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
The original law was a fair one; it kept people from forcing the offender to pay a greater price than the offense deserved. It also prevented people from taking personal revenge.
Jesus replaced a law with an attitude: be willing to suffer loss yourself rather than cause another to suffer. Of course, He applied this to personal insults, not to groups or nations. The person who retaliates only makes himself and the offender feel worse; and the result is a settled war and not peace.
In order to “turn the other cheek,” we must stay where we are and not run away. This demands both faith and love. It also means that we will be hurt, but it is better to be hurt on the outside than to be harmed on the inside. But it further means that we should try to help the sinner.
We are vulnerable, because he may attack us anew; but we are also victorious, because Jesus is on our side, helping us and building our characters. Psychologists tell us that violence is born of weakness, not strength. It is the strong man who can love and suffer hurt; it is the weak man who thinks only of himself and hurts others to protect himself. He hurts others then runs away to protect himself.
Avoiding the problem
It is all fine and good not to retaliate. That is the Way of Jesus. That should be our focus.
Is there a way to avoid even the need to?
- Romans 12:18 (CSB) — 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
- 1 Peter 4:8 (CSB) — 8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.