The Value of Cheek Turning

abba_anthony “The brothers praised a monk before Abba Anthony. When the monk came to see him, Anthony wanted to know how he would bear insults; and seeing that he could not bear them at all, he said to him, ‘You are like a village magnificently decorated on the outside, but destroyed from within by robbers.”

— sayings of the desert

The true test of any person comes when we face criticism. These are harsh words that cut to the bone. Such words can be true or false, just or unjust but they always hurt. In the times of praise it is very easy to be gracious and loving . When the tables are turned, we learn the ultimate meaning of turning the other cheek. The challenge is to be a person who has the inner trust in God that allows us to be a 24/7 Christian. None of us are there yet, but the journey continues.

Prayer Thought – Lord help me to be a Christian from the inside out.


Filed under Desert Fathers

5 responses to “The Value of Cheek Turning

  1. This is a hard lesson to learn. I think if you have issues with self-esteem you can find you have a huge reaction or, conversely, you take it all on board and burden yourself with baggage that is not really your own, all because you don’t think much of yourself in the first place. It is a narrow road choosing to first love yourself as God loves you and then to love the other person as God loves them, or at least to hand the situation over to God. Also, if you’re vulnerable and someone insults you, it can leave you bewildered and feeling worthless – so anyone in a position of authority should be careful if they’re considering taking Abba Anthony’s tack.

    I still struggle with this, personally, but less so, by grace. God is good! You think you don’t have the strength to do something and then you find that you do – all by grace, all by love.

    At which point, though, do we cease turning the other cheek? I am thinking specifically of situations of abuse or violence.

    • Turning the other cheek never applies to abuse. The concept of cheek turning is the way we build the Christian faith. Our example as people who love rather than hate, get along rather than get even is the value of cheek turning.

      • The trouble is, for some people it is hard to know where the boundaries lie. My first husband was insulting almost from the very beginning, and it gradually got worse, over the years, until the time when he was just horrible, and violent, all the time. If I had had the ability to love myself as God loves me I wouldn’t have put up with it, but I didn’t. I spent a decade slowly suffocating. In part this was because of teachings such as ‘turn the other cheek’. My point (and this is not a criticism at all!) is that the church as a whole needs to be more aware of the vulnerable people within its midst. We need to be clear what is ‘acceptable’ and what is not. Many people may think that it’s obvious, but for many people, including me, it’s not. I’m still learning.

      • The last thing that any mainline minister would want you or anyone else to think is that turning the other cheek even, even in the most remote context, meant that you had to suffer abuse at the hands of anyone.

        The Gospel is rooted in self-love and value. Would Jesus have given Himself for us if we were worthless? NO!! I am grieved that somehow clergy all over the world have failed to allow or encourage congregants to develop healthy self-love. Turning the other cheek can and does involve suffering, but it never succumbs to abuse. Jesus never meant for us to give ourselves “ over to be burned” in senseless ways that did not involve our faith. One who stays with an abusive husband is not a martyr but a victim.

        Vulnerability is a very big consideration to any pastor in our times. That being said, I still believe that a big part of our faith is walking away from arguments and disputes. People who always setting things right probably never have success or peace. That is the point of the post. I value and will be extra careful about the vulnerability of those who my read my blog, and I thank you for the alert.

        I thank you for being such a regular reader of my posts, and want you to know that this morning you were a special object of prayer. God loves you, you are valuable and He will put His shield around you.

        A Book you might want to read– “Boundaries”

  2. Bless you, that’s so very kind. I have read that book and it changed my life, but it is not something that happens quickly because you have to relearn all the different boundaries all over again and it’s not easy. The reason I commented as I did was because in the past I would have read the original post/quote and been confused and taken it negatively and I can imagine other vulnerable people reading things into it that I know you never intended. Does that make sense? I am touched by your concern. How beautiful it is when we pray for people we have never even met. Thank you. 🙂

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