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Matthew 5:38-48
But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also (Matthew 5:39).

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Read Romans 12:9-21 to learn how we should respond to those who hurt us.

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When have you felt disrespected? How did you respond? What would have been a Christlike response?

When I lived in China, I had an American friend who was radically committed to bringing the gospel to that nation. He mastered the Chinese language until even the Chinese thought he spoke exactly like them, with no foreign accent; and he aggressively shared Jesus at every opportunity. Once he was attacked by thugs, and rather than use his larger size to fight back he obeyed Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek. His pummeling increased my admiration for him, though I also think he missed Jesus’ point.

Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek is not a caution against self-defense. He assumed that there was a place for self-defense (Luke 12:11, 22:36), and Paul repeatedly defended himself before others (Acts 22:1, 24:10). Neither does Jesus mean that we should simply stand there and take a beating, for even He slipped away when crowds tried to kill Him (Luke 4:28-30; John 8:59, 10:39).

The key to understanding Jesus’ point is the direction of the slap. In a right-handed world, a person who is slapped on the right cheek would be slapped by the back of the hand, which signifies insult and shame. The Roman world of Jesus’ day was consumed with honor. Emperors went to war over slights and snubs, both real and imagined.

We still do. Someone snidely remarks, “Your work isn’t half bad, it’s mostly bad.” Backslap! We reply that we didn’t know they could tell the difference. Backslap back! And just like that, our mutual disrespect can escalate into a verbal war. Imagine how much trouble we could avoid if we followed Jesus’ command to deflate the argument by turning the other cheek!

Anyone who attempts anything meaningful will at times be disrespected. You will be backslapped. Don’t backslap back.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Luke 2:41-52

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4 Responses to “backslap back?”

  1. GChoo says:

    Mike, thank you for the scriptures to remind us to be wise in situations where we are being backslap.

    We live in a world where we are so used to backslap other people and being backslapped. So true that we are conditioned to backslap back. I can recall myself being in such situation and have regretted it because it will lead to cracks in relationship. And, most of the times pride prevented us from saying ‘sorry’ to admit our disrespect.

    Thank you for the message to keep us in check.

  2. bluefigtoast says:

    I am autistic so I tend to interpret things literally.

    This is the definition of backslap from dictionary.reference.com:

    noun
    3. a hearty slap on the back given as a token of affability or congratulation: The bridegroom received many a warm handshake and backslap.

    So when you use it in this context:

    “Anyone who attempts anything meaningful will at times be disrespected. You will be backslapped. Don’t backslap back.”

    It takes on a negative denotation. I am quite confused by your post.

    Wayno

  3. mike wittmer says:

    Thank you for your question, Wayno. The dictionary gave one definition of the term but that is not its only meaning. I am using it here in a more literal way, to slap another person back (which my mother always taught me was wrong). A good rule of thumb is that context determines meaning, so there will be times where one entry in a dictionary might mislead.

  4. daisymarygoldr says:

    Not sure how the backhanded slap concept can be applied to left-handed people. Point is: a slap is a slap whether it is delivered as a backhanded or a front-handed shot. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was teaching His disciples about the higher laws of God’s Kingdom.

    Do not resist the evil person. If someone smites you on one cheek and it makes them feel good, then let them have the other cheek too so they will feel better about themselves. Showing the other cheek means to not retaliate or seek revenge as you go about doing work for His Kingdom.

    If you repay evil with evil you are actually helping to perpetrate evil. We are called to overcome evil with good. Why do you not rather accept wrong? And respect BTW, becomes immaterial to those who are in Christ. So, don’t even bother to put the record straight so as to salvage self-esteem. Remember it is not your honor that is at stake but the Lord’s.

    In everything you say or do seek to honor Him by doing what is right. “…because the time is near. Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; … I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”

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