Other Cheek / Extra Mile

We don't like to be cheated do we? We don't like to be talked about either. It's not in our American DNA to just let these drift by, even when we are dealing with fellow Christians. Our tendencies are to fight back, maybe in defense of ourselves, or perhaps even with revenge in our hearts to get even.

Paul, writing to the church of Corinth, was addressing one of many problems they had, disputes, and not just disputes, but disputes amongst themselves. Paul first of all says such disputes should not be judged by outsiders, and if you will think about that for a minute, it's obvious why. But Paul really wants to get to the deeper issue, our lesson for today.

1 Cor 6:1-8

Paul says when these disputes are not settled like Christians ought to settle them, and they wind up in the hands of people who "scorn" (despise or look down on) the church that it "means you have been completely defeated already." Satan has already accomplished what he was after, he has outsmarted us and given the world more ammunition to use against the church. Paul says for that very reason, "Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?"

Catch this part now, Paul says fighting back in this way is 'wrong'. He says, "Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters." And if that was not enough to get their eyes open, Paul says, "Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?"

Jesus himself, and through His Apostles, teaches us that in the church, there is a much better way to handle things, forgiving "not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (Matt 18:22) "Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Gal 6:2) We certainly are to love our brothers and sisters, because the world is watching, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

Those of us in the church are commanded to carry this same attitude outside the church too. Christ said, "On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink..."" (Rom 12:20) "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," (Matt 5:44) "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matt 6:14-15)

Turning the other cheek (Matt 5:39) or going the extra mile (Matt 5:41) is not the way we do things by our nature, but it is the way God tells us to handle things, and He doesn't give us a list of who we can exempt!