Turning the Other Cheek

2.1.24 Devo Image

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”—Matthew 5:38–42 (NIV)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus imparts profound teachings on living a life that reflects the values of God’s kingdom. Jesus speaks about turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, and giving to those in need. These verses challenge us to adopt a radical and counter-cultural approach to conflict and generosity. Let’s study verse by verse.

Verse 38: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'” Jesus is setting the stage for a deeper discussion on how His followers should respond to conflict and injustice. He’s introducing a shift from a legalistic view of justice to one that emphasizes grace, forgiveness, and a desire for peace and reconciliation.

Question: How does Jesus challenge the conventional understanding of justice in this verse? What does He suggest as an alternative response to wrongdoing?

Verse 39: “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Here we see the call to respond to wrongdoing with love, grace, and a commitment to nonviolence. It challenges us to transcend our natural instincts for revenge and seek reconciliation and peace, even in the face of mistreatment or injustice. 

Question: What does this action symbolize, and why is it significant in the context of conflict resolution?

Verse 40: “And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” Jesus extends this principle to material possessions. Instead of hoarding what we have or seeking to protect our rights aggressively, we’re called to give generously, even to those who would take from us.

Question: What deeper message is He conveying about material possessions and our willingness to share?

Verse 41: “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” In this verse Jesus is teaching His followers to respond to situations where they’re forced into service with a gracious and selfless attitude. By going beyond what is legally required and willingly serving, they demonstrate the transformative power of love and kindness. This teaching reflects the broader message of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus calls His disciples to live in a way that reflects the values and principles of God’s kingdom.

Question: How does the idea of going the extra mile in this verse relate to our attitude toward service and going beyond what is required of us?

Verse 42: “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” In this final verse, Jesus emphasizes the importance of generosity, especially towards those in need. He encourages us to be open hearted, ready to help those who ask, and not to withhold assistance when it’s within our power to give.

Question: How can we practically apply this principle of generosity in our daily lives?

We can see how Jesus sets a high standard for His followers. He challenges us to resist the natural impulse for revenge, to be radically generous, and to respond to hostility with love. As we strive to live out these principles, we draw closer to the heart of God’s kingdom, where love and grace abound. Let us prayerfully consider how we can apply these teachings in our daily lives and be witnesses of Christ’s transformative love to the world.

Pause: Before you begin, find a quiet and peaceful space and take a few deep breaths to center yourself and prepare your heart and mind for this spiritual exercise.

PracticeReflect on verse 38. Think about a recent situation in your life where you felt wronged or mistreated. How did you initially respond to it? Did you seek revenge or retaliation in any way? Journal your thoughts and feelings.

Reflect on verse 39. Imagine a scenario where someone has treated you unfairly or insulted you. Practice responding with grace and nonretaliation in your imagination.

Reflect on verses 40–42. Think about a specific person or situation where you can practice generosity. It could be through giving your time, resources, or forgiveness.

Pray: Heavenly Father, we come before You with hearts open to Your Word and Your teachings. Lord, help us to turn away from thoughts of revenge and retaliation when we face wrongdoing. Teach us, Lord, to be generous in spirit and action. Lord, grant us the willingness to go the extra mile, not out of obligation, but out of a desire to serve and to be a source of blessing to others. We lift up to You any conflicts or misunderstandings in our lives, asking for Your guidance and healing. May Your peace reign in our hearts and in our relationships as we strive to live out the teachings of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

About the Author

Romina Cherven

After serving four years in the events department at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, Romina and her husband Greg moved to Sardinia, Italy, as missionaries. Before this, Romina, a trained chef, had a successful 25-year career as a Food and Beverage Director in the U.S. hospitality industry. In Sardinia, when she's not dedicated to her missionary work, Romina indulges her passion for writing and exploring local street markets, discovering new flavors and culinary inspirations.