“Why should I turn my cheek, for someone to slap the other one?” I remember asking my Children’s Sunday School teacher this very question. We were learning about the Sermon on the Mount and Matthew 5:38-42 was our focus:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
– Matthew 5:38-42
I vividly remember being perplexed by this statement in the Bible. How could you turn the other cheek for someone to slap you again? It wasn’t fair. As I grew, I remember still not really understanding this verse in the Bible. Then, newly married, while in a Bible study group, I was faced with this scripture again. After the study, I remember finally understanding this scripture in theory.
A turn of events happened that has caused everyone at the church to understand these verses in a very real, and tangible way. Turning the other cheek is about putting on the meekness of Jesus Christ; not retaliating or seeking “an eye for an eye” when someone wrongs you, but rather showing them the love and the forgiveness of Christ.
The Chair Thief
Hope Community Church in Navrongo has been praying for the person who stole our chairs (twice) two years ago. We prayed that God would arrest their souls and that they would come to Christ.
Towards the end of December, while Evans and I were preparing to return to Ghana after some time in the United States, Evans received a call at 3 am. The security guard at the church, who is also a church member, had caught someone trying to steal building materials from the church in broad daylight!
We were shocked by the vivid account of events. Mr. Dambayire, the church security guard, had just gotten off his nightly shift around 6 am. He’d gone to pick up his wife, who is a teacher, and drop her off at school like he does every day. But “something” told him to pass by the church again after he dropped his wife off that day. Mr. Dambayire passed by the church and found a young man leaving the church with a truck loaded with the church’s building materials!
Of course, Mr. Dambayire stopped the truck and recognized the young man from his community! Martin had just gotten out of prison, and he was also one of the prisoners who came to work at the church building before being released in December. He needed money. He decided to steal from a “familiar place.”
Evans took Martin to the police and allowed the church’s court case against Martin to be “put on hold” as long as Martin agreed to check in with the police daily and pay back the cost of the chairs that were stolen in the past. Martin also has become an honorary “security guard” at Hope Community Church. The police told him that if anything else gets stolen from the church again, they will recommend that the church process Martin to jail.
Evans met with Martin and his family and explained the Gospel. He told Martin that he forgave him, and most of all, God forgives him. Martin has confessed and believed in Christ Jesus as his Lord and Savior. However, we are praying for fruit in his life.
Now, Martin comes every Sunday for church and attends most Bible Studies and Prayer Meetings, demonstrating that “whoever has been forgiven much loves much” (Luke 7:36-50). Of course, we are giving it time because some church members (particularly the security guard) are very cautious with Martin. But we lead by example in loving Martin the way Christ would want us to love him. Recently, we had a church meeting, and all church members agreed to accept Martin, forgive him, and show him the love of Jesus Christ. What an incredible start to the year!
Pictured: Children’s Sunday School at Church
On your social media, copy and paste the link to this blog to your social media with an answer to one of the questions. Or, post your answer in the comments.
- What is your understanding of forgiveness and reconciliation? How do the verses in Matthew 5 help you in this.
- What is God teaching you in your journey to forgive or in the process of being forgiven by someone?
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