Turn the other Cheek

Laurie Buffo, Volunteer Writer, South Barrington | November 30, 2023

Guard my life and rescue me;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
    because my hope, Lord, is in you.
Psalm 25:20-21

When someone wrongs us, we are flooded by strong emotions like fear, powerlessness, grief, shame, and rage. It takes self-control to react well, especially when we feel our reputation is at stake. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can act with integrity even when others do not—even when doing so seems costly.

I can think of times when refusing to retaliate gave me a greater sense of well-being than I ever thought possible. For example, I once co-chaired an event committee with a woman I did not know. We needed to set up a meeting with a third party, so I called and emailed my co-chair multiple times to ask when it would be convenient for her. All my efforts to contact her went unacknowledged. Eventually, I set up the meeting and left my co-chair a message with the date and time. She still did not respond. On the day of the appointment, I had no idea if my co-chair would attend. Much to my surprise, she greeted me at the door. She informed me she had arrived early, and the meeting had already occurred.

I was shocked and furious. I was so flooded with emotion I froze. Later, I was tempted to get even by bad-mouthing her behind her back. In the days following, the Holy Spirit helped me hold my tongue. I sensed that, with time, my co-chair would reveal herself to others, and I would not need to say a thing.

My co-chair bowed out just days before the event, leaving me, the less knowledgeable one, in charge. Considering my inexperience, I did the best I could. Throwing her under the bus for every hiccup would have been easy, but I maintained self-control. My Holy Spirit-powered generous attitude did not go unnoticed. Several people went out of their way to compliment and support me. Just as David prayed in today’s passage, God protected me by helping me respond to my “enemy” with integrity and uprightness.

Though I often forget to heed it, this experience showed me I can trust God with my reputation. He sees what is happening, and His opinion is the only one that truly matters. When we allow it, the Holy Spirit shares God’s character with us, bringing a tremendous sense of well-being. It is so much better than acting out of instinct. Looking back, I wonder what was going on in my co-chair’s life then. What led her to behave the way she did? I can honestly say I wish her well. I am grateful for the experience because it taught me the value of turning the other cheek.

Next Steps   

How are you most likely to respond when someone wrongs you? If you are tempted to retaliate, try praying Psalm 25:1-2 (ESV), “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.” Imagine what lifting your soul to God feels like. Turn the situation over to Him, trusting He can keep you from being put to shame.