Cheeks and Tables

Good Morning Brothers…

Trail cameras are revealing some nice deer walking around. The feeders are getting hit pretty hard. Youth deer season starts in less than a month and elk season a week later. It is almost time to feel the wind, listen for the call of the wild, and disappear…can’t wait!

I received a text the other day with this question:

“When are we to be like Christ and turn the other cheek, and when are we to be like Christ and turn over the money changing tables?”

Good question…

With any question like this, it is paramount to go back to Scripture and refresh ourselves with the particular passages. In the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, Jesus is teaching the crowds that the Law isn’t just about our actions but also about our thoughts, our motivations. An example of this would be: It isn’t enough to not murder, we must also not grow angry toward someone which could result in murder. During this part of the ‘sermon’ Jesus says in Matthew 5:39, But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. Luke 6:27-30 expands on this idea which helps with the context, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.

Later on in Jesus’ ministry, He enters Jerusalem and then enters the temple. Matthew 21:12-13 picks up the story here,And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbersden.”  Again, we will flip over to another Gospel to gain some context, this time we will read John 2:13-17, which says, The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume me.”

OK…now that we have refreshed ourselves on the bread within these passages, let us answer the original question.

“When are we to be like Christ and turn the other cheek, and when are we to be like Christ and turn over the money changing tables?”

We are to turn the other cheek whenever we are the target. If we are being persecuted, rejoice and turn the other cheek. If we are getting slandered in the court of public opinion, pray and turn the other cheek. If we are getting the screws put to us by our boss, the government, our family, our friends, whatever…take the high road and turn the other cheek. Christ also teaches that we should be “as crafty as serpents and innocent as doves” which means we can defend ourselves from the slander, we can respond to the screws within our means and in a legal manner, however, the motivation to prolong ourselves as a target is to pour as much love, joy, and peace as possible…despite our untenable circumstances. This is turning the cheek. In short, when evil has us in the crosshairs, love your enemies, glow with joy, and speak the words of a man at peace with himself. This type of reaction will not go unnoticed.

We are to turn over the tables whenever God is the target. God will not be mocked. Now, before we all think this gives us license to blow up abortion clinics or some other stupid idea, let us go back to the passage in John 2 and examine the method Jesus used, “And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple…”    When Jesus saw that the money changers were making a mockery of God’s house, He reacted by ‘slowing down’ and taking the time to make a whip. He could have called down legions of angels, He could have caused the ground to swallow them, He could have done a whole bunch of different amazing supernatural things…but He didn’t. He took the time necessary to find materials and make a whip, which means He calmed down and consulted His Father in heaven. Remember, Jesus is famous for saying, “Not my will, but my Father’s will.”

Whenever we see a situation in which we think God is being mocked, before we turn the tables over, take the time to slow down and consult the Almighty. Ask Him the question, “What would You have me do?”…and then sit quietly and wait for an answer. Otherwise, our adversary will use our righteous anger against the Church, and we may do more harm than good.

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