When something happens to us we do not like, there is an important element immediately at play. Time. If we react in an instant, we are likely to react according to the flesh. If we can buy ourselves a little bit of time to respond rather than react, we are more likely to do so according to the spirit. 

The point of turning the other cheek is “don’t react”. It is not about being passive or avoiding justice. It is about taking the time necessary to steward our choices well.

There is a companion verse that says “when you don’t react you pour heaps of coals on the head of the other person” – meaning by reacting you lose and by not reacting you win.  

When we react to others we are actually putting ourselves at their command. When we refuse to react, and rather behave based on careful consideration of our values, we can act based on a few essential truths.

First, we have no human enemies, our enemies are principalities and powers. Second, we don’t really know what is going on with the other person, we only have assumptions. Third, we have a great mission to serve the Kingdom as a servant of Christ. We need to look beyond “me” and ask “What is true? What is in the best interest of this person?”  

This puts us above the circumstances. A fulfilled life responds to circumstances out of character. A dysfunctional life allows circumstances to dictate character. By turning the other cheek, we buy ourselves some precious moments where we can consider in truth who we are and how we ought to reply.

“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.”
– Luke 6:29-30