When Right Feels Wrong: 70 X 7
“Have you ever realized that turning the other cheek doesn’t mean you walk away; it means you offer them the rest of you to hurt?” ~Krysti Courchesne
Sitting and listening to lies spread about me is painful, and not being able to say anything to convince my accusers otherwise exacerbates the wound. Being confronted time and time again by those whose opinions I respect the most for all of these things that I never said and never did, and having to just sit and take it certainly has not been easy. Whenever I corrected one of the rumors, I was accused of lying, being fake, and being manipulative. When I refused to gossip about a private situation to outside parties, again the attacks on my character ensued, and I was accused of hiding a (nonexistent) incriminating truth. By choosing to honor God by keeping my mouth shut and not talking poorly about a friend, I opened myself up to a whole other slew of attacks.
It surely would have been easier to just walk away, to give up, to stop caring, and I’ve been fighting the urge to do just that and quit caring about these people for some time now. That feels like the right thing to do. It would protect me from a lot a pain. But unfortunately, I don’t think that is what we are called to do. We are called to love, to forgive, to show grace. That is simply part of the great paradox that is the Christian Life. So often, Right feels Wrong. I don’t want to love them. They haven’t loved me. They have refused to believe me, and instead willingly believed the very worst things about me, and then spread those things like wildfire. Turing my check doesn’t mean walking away, as I wish it did.
In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus says this:
“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.
Growing up, I thought that this passage was rather confusing. I couldn’t understand why I should allow myself to be physically attacked. I have found though, that the passage doesn’t exactly mean that.
“Jesus is speaking here of the principle of non-retaliation to affronts against our own dignity…He was calling for a full surrender of all personal rights. Turning the other cheek means not to return insult for insult in retaliation, which is what most people expect and how worldly people act. Responding to hatred with love just might grab someone’s attention and afford us a chance to share the gospel. When we respond in a manner that is unnatural, it displays the supernatural power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus was the perfect example because He was silent before His accusers and did not call down revenge from heaven on those who crucified Him.” ~Got Questions
Grace. All grace. Showering insult not with injury, but with grace and forgiveness isn’t easy, but through the power of the Holy Spirit I can do it.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times“. ~Matthew 18:21-22
I’m growing wearing of waiting for 70 X 7 to get here. I’m tired of being hurt and I am tired of caring. But Jesus was not giving me permission to stop forgiving when I get to 490 times. What he was really saying was to keep no record of wrongs. He was telling us to not count, to not hold grudges, and to forgive. Without limits or caps. As many times are you are wronged, you forgive all the greater.
Immediately following Peter’s question, we see the parable of the unforgiving servant. I have been forgiven for every lie I ever told, every time I rolled my eyes at my mother, every time I cheated on homework. I have been forgiven this enormous debt by a perfect, sovereign, Holy, Just, God. Shouldn’t we be willing to forgive that much greater?
When the soldiers beat and spit on Jesus, he turned the cheek, he offered the rest of himself to hurt. With his help, I can do the same.