What does it mean to “turn the other cheek?” The Bible has quite a bit to say when it comes to dealing with difficult people who have wronged or frustrated us, but despite the clear guidance, it can often times be difficult to live out that sentiment.
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So, let’s take a look at five ways we can engage in turning the other cheek:
Turn the Other Cheek by Reading Scripture
The most essential way we can live out this important command is to look at the most popular turn the other cheek Bible verse.
Jesus made it clear during the Sermon on the Mount that people should avoid revenge and should, instead, aim to treat others — even enemies — with love. For Jesus, turning the other cheek means being kind and compassionate.
Here’s what he had to say in Matthew 5:38-42 (NIV):
“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.
Christ goes on to also proclaim that people should love their neighbors — and their enemies. In verse 44, he said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
This is very clearly yet another message urging us all to turn the other cheek.
Turn the Other Cheek by Relying on Prayer
Another way to successfully turn the other cheek is to pause and pray for strength. When difficult people make life seemingly impossible, or when you’re faced with what appears to be an insurmountable task, take your grievances to God, while also praying for the other person.
The Bible repeatedly affirms the importance of prayer. Psalm 5:3 tells us, “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”
Prayer not only calms us down, but it can also lead to important guidance in how we should handle people.
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Turn the Other Cheek by Showing Grace
When you rely on prayer and reflect on turn the other cheek Bible verses, you find yourself in an important position to show grace to others. No one is perfect and it’s very likely that you, too, have made mistakes in the past — errors in judgement, behavior or commentary that have hurt people.
Just as you struggle to turn the other cheek, consider the times you, too, have made errors and how others have reacted to those mistakes. Reflect and learn from those very personal instances.
Our past behavior is sometimes the best pathway for understanding how to deal with current and future issues. Showing grace for others means understanding that no one is perfect and that we must live out that reality with hope, compassion and forgiveness.
Turn the Other Cheek by Loving People
Jesus makes it clear that the two most important commandments are to love God and love others. Reflecting on both of these sentiments is essential when one decides to turn the other cheek.
In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus replies to a question surrounding the “greatest commandment of the Law.” Christ proclaims:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Sometimes loving others means selflessly putting those turn the other cheek Bible verses into practice. Rather than lashing out or responding, it means having self-restraint and seeking to find common ground — and it sometimes means going above and beyond the call of duty to create and foster peace.
Most people have a deep love for themselves, so if we’re called to turn the other cheek, that means we must show that same love for others.
It’s a difficult call that in some ways goes against human nature, but Jesus’ focus on these values proves their importance.
Turn the Other Cheek by Walking Away
Turning the other cheek can be easy when the offenses seem minor or relatively benign, though there are times when the reaction or action from someone else is so intense and damaging that you simply must walk away.
In the heat of the moment, sometimes it’s better to leave a situation or to create some distance between you and the other person or party. This allows for cooler, rational heads to prevail.
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If someone yells at you or confronts you, it’s sometimes better to say, “Let’s calmly discuss this, or re-approach at a later time when we are more level-headed and able to reason with one another.”
Other times, silence is key when attempting to turn the other cheek. Unfortunately, there are some situations when we must turn the other cheek and forgive, while also no longer allowing toxic people to overtake our lives.
The Gospel Coalition has more:
There were many times Jesus could have allowed his life to be taken, but he escaped because “his time had not come yet” (John 7:30, 44; 10:39). We need not pity Jesus for his death—he was accomplishing his mission, on his terms. And we need not pity ourselves, out of a false martyrdom complex, when we allow dangerous or unhealthy people to dictate our lives. We must be certain that we, like Jesus, are laying our lives down on our own accord and not having them taken from us by life-sucking individuals.