I’m Running Out Of Cheeks by Aaron Welch, LMHC

One of the most difficult scriptures to apply in our lives is Jesus’ teaching on “turning the other cheek” when somebody attacks us or insults us. For many of us (including yours truly) our first reaction to an attack is to defend ourselves. In fact, when it comes to dealing with a perceived attack upon us, many of us subscribe to the theory that “the best defense is a good offense”!
Yes, Jesus was clearly showing his listeners that the Lord wants us to refrain from indulging our urges for personal vengeance. In fact, he leads up to this teaching by citing the fact that the religious leaders of the day were encouraging the “eye for an eye” principle on dealing with conflict. But, he then tells the people that this is not the way he wants his disciples to handle their relationships. Talk about a hard teaching to swallow!

So, how do we apply this principle to our everyday lives? When our spouse lays into us right where it hurts, how can we refrain from firing back? When our boss lets us have it for something that wasn’t our fault, how can we turn the other cheek without turning into a door mat?

Here’s some quick advice:

1) Realize that most insults or personal attacks have more to do with that person’s own struggles than they do about you. That person may have an anger problem or they may be insecure or their own hurts from the past may have been inadvertently triggered. Don’t always take the insult personally.

2) Remember that retaliation almost always causes the situation to escalate.
-When we retaliate in a harsh way, it also gives that person a reason to blame us for the situation. They often use our retaliation as a way to avoid taking responsibility for their own harsh words.

3) Remember that God says in scripture that vengeance belongs to Him. The Bible teaches that we all “reap what we sow”. A person cannot lash out hurtfully in anger without facing consequences for it eventually. On the flip side, if you respond harshly you may also be sowing seeds that may bring a harvest you don’t like.

4) Do your best to detach yourself from the insult.
-Realize that the attacker’s goal is to hurt you or cause a response from you. Don’t fall into that trap.

5) When attacked; slow yourself down, walk away, and approach that person later.
-You CAN stand up for yourself in a way that is both strong and still godly.

6) Pray for that person:
-They most likely have a lot of pain and hurt below the surface. They need the love of Christ more than we need personal revenge.

Are these steps easy to follow? Ummm…no. However, if we allow Him to, the Holy Spirit will help us to grow and mature in our walk with the Lord. It’s His work of sanctification; a very large word that simply means God will, over time, help us to be more like Jesus. Oh, and speaking of Jesus…was there ever anyone who was a better example of turning the other cheek? Never, and if He can do it in the face of severe pain and persecution, I’m confident that He can help us learn how to deal with relational conflict in a healthier way.

About the Author: Aaron Welch is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has devoted his life to reaching out and helping people to grow and mature through difficult life situations. Whether it has been through clinical counseling, pastoral ministry, youth camps and conventions, public speaking, leadership training, educational instruction, athletic coaching or small group ministry, Aaron has over eighteen years of experience in assisting people through life struggles and personal growth. His genuine love for people and his outgoing personality combine to create a safe and caring environment for putting the pieces of life back together.

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