“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
Hold up your hand if you meticulously follow Jesus’ commands in Luke 6? No. I didn’t raise my hand either. However, this is what Jesus expects and we have a responsibility to obey.
As one who has spoken to many audiences over the years, I can’t help but laugh at his introductory words to these commands. “But to you who are listening…” Just like today, his followers had selective hearing. “I’ll tune back in when He goes back to performing miracles.” Or “I’m only here because my wife made me come.” Or “I wonder what the special is today at the Pita Palace.”
Let’s make a commitment to listen to what He has to say.
(1) Love your enemies.
(2) Do good to those who hate you.
(3) Bless those who curse you.
(4) Pray for those who mistreat you.
- If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.
- If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
(5) Give to everyone who asks you.
(6) If anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
I’ve been involved in Bible Study groups and one on one conversations in which this passage was discussed. Inevitably, someone asks, “But what about…?”
Jesus didn’t leave His commands open for review by committee. To use a popular expression, “It is what it is.” If we are going to coexist with people like us and those not like us, Jesus wants us to be the peacemakers.
I’ve heard preachers address the command to turn the other cheek. After that, they say, “Let ‘em have it!”
Jesus meant what He said. How can we know that? Because that’s the way He lived while on this earth.
Then we should never fight. No. That’s not what I mean at all. Jesus is referring to our daily, person to person relationships which will benefit from this loving behavior.
This is the way a believer should behave and when you do, you are being true to your Christian self. When you treat non-believers with this very different response from the worldly norm, they are befuddled.
There’s a passage of scripture that goes along with this theme that explains why Jesus’ way is better than the normal retaliatory human response. Please take your time and read Romans 12:17-21 carefully.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Three things I want you to see in this passage that shows the benefit of following Christ’s instruction.
(1) In verse 18, we are told, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you…” Some people you encounter will resist any and all attempts at peace. Extenuating circumstances may make it impossible for you to make a difference. So — WHENEVER POSSIBLE and AS MUCH AS DEPENDS ON YOU be the peacemaker, even if it means swallowing your pride.
(2) This works. Don’t miss it. “For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” What does that mean? It means they will be devastated by your loving acts of unexpected kindness. Bullies know how to fight. They know how to retaliate. They can outsmart, out-cuss, and manipulate your words and actions to make you look like the bad guy. Hit them with what they don’t understand. I’ve seen it work time after time. Loving acts of kindness are like a foreign language they don’t understand.
(3) Verse 21 sums it all up. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” When we Christians fight back as the world fights, we lose. But when we do it Jesus’ way we win.
One final thought on the matter. You never lose when you obey Jesus’ commands. Even if your Christian behavior doesn’t produce the desired result, you have remained faithful to the Master. As for the other person, the one who has wronged you, that’s between them and God, which is a very serious matter as we see in verse 19. “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
For more on this topic, check out this article: God Plays Favorites with His Children
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.