The Left Cheek Too

And still more from The Sayings of the Desert Fathers:

The same Abba Macarius while he was in Egypt discovered a man who owned a beast of burden engaged in plundering Macarius’ goods. So he came up to the thief as if he was a stranger and he helped him to load the animal. He saw him off in great peace of soul, saying, “We have brought nothing into this world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” (1 Timothy 6:7) “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; bless be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)

This is serious business, this matter of faith, of following Jesus when he tells the disciples and the crowds in Matthew 5:

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. ’ 39 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. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42 ESV)

I wouldn’t have that kind of faith. I suspect most Christians wouldn’t. But just remember, some followers of Jesus have taken non-resistance, and this command to give up everything, very seriously.

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:16-22 ESV)

One thought on “The Left Cheek Too

  1. I heard a pastor speak back in the 70’s who knew a family (in his own congregation, I think) who did actually give away all they had, and then found themselves in a terrible fix. I expect they became dependent on anyone willing to help them and may had no idea what to do with their lives from there on. As the new-ageish people say, these things have to be done *consciously* – with a full understanding of what is entailed. If I give away everything, but am still attached to my old things and my old ways in my heart, then I haven’t obeyed anything. It’s not a holy act, in that case. It’s more like a stunt from “Jackass”.

    As in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything: a time to whip the money-changers, and a time to submit to the centurion’s hammer and nails.

    As in all things, we have to follow the Spirit. I don’t know any fail-free way to be sure what to do. But if I am motivated by love and compassion, that’s a pretty good indicator. If I am motivated by spiritual pride, then I expect I’ll get the consequences I deserve.

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