Turning the other cheek vs. being a pushover: What’s the difference?
I only have a second before I need to dash out to another event as part of my WEEK OF EPIC SOCIALIZING, so I thought I’d let you do all the hard work today and give me the answer to a question that’s perplexed me for a while:
What is the different between being Christ-like and being a pushover?
Here’s why I ask:
I am an extremely nonconfrontational person. To a fault. I mean, if I walked out to my car and witnessed someone run a key down the paint, slash all the tires and break all the windows, I probably would just say, “Hey, what are you doing?” (Phrasing it as a question, since, you never know, he might have a good reason for his actions!) Even if he responded by saying that he was just destroying my car for fun, I would probably just nod, perhaps letting a vague look of mild disapproval cross my face. Heck, if I got on my phone to call a tow truck, I’d probably worry about seeming impolite.
Given this temperament, it’s easy for me to convince myself that I’m just a really saintly, other-cheek-turning kind of person on occasions when I let others’ transgressions go. “Just trying to imitate the Lord!” I assure myself…but in reality I’m just doing what’s easiest for me. For example, the other day I’d been waiting in a line for quite a while, and a woman cut right in front of me. It was pretty clear from her body language that this was intentional. It was one of the most blatantly unfair, infuriating actions I’ve witnessed in a long time. My temper flared, so I said, “Oh — heh-heh — um, hey, I, uhh…” and she promptly turned away from me and made a call on her cell phone. I never did say anything, and, sure enough, she got served after waiting only a couple of moments, whereas my wait was extended even further.
As I walked away from the situation, I assured myself that that was the Christian thing to do. I was a living testament to Matthew 5:39! Maybe this lady was stressed and in a hurry, and I made her day a little easier by letting her cut in front of me in line. But something didn’t feel right about that conclusion. Maybe some small part of my motive in giving her a pass was Christ-centered, but mostly it was Jen’s-fear-of-confrontation-centered. And while I do know that we Christians are supposed to love our enemies and not seek vengeance out of anger, surely there is some line that can be crossed where you’re just a pushover. Right?
I really don’t know. So I turn the question over to you:
Is there such a thing as being a Christian pushover, or should we always let it go when people wrong us? If there is a boundary between being Christ-like and being a wimp, where do you draw that line?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
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