(Matthew 5:38-9 KJV) Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.Some people use it to mean that Christians are required to be door mats. It is more an indictment of self centered egotism that demands having your own way all the time. It is a call to humility and service. It takes God’s desire that His people be different to a new height.
Notice the first part of the verse. This is quoting the OT. This idea shows up at least three times. The earliest is part of a series of statements about justice:
(Exodus 21:23-5 KJV) And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.This sounds like violence to us but what it was doing was limiting response to equal value. What Jesus is doing is saying even that is too much. We are to forgive.
Why is this important? Picture what all parents have seen in the back of the car every Sunday morning. Your daughter gives your son a look. He smacks her. She hits him with a book. He hits her hard. Now transfer that to the school ground between two boys. One jumps on the other and starts pounding. Some friends come to help the underdog. A few minutes later friends come to help the other. Continue this scenario until we get to the level of nations and eventually we have nuclear war erupting.
Why do you have the nuclear war? Because the boy insisted on responding instead of forgiving. Things start small and escalate. Accepting that you have been wronged and getting on with life is part of the contribution to social graces that have made western civilization strong. It may not be justice for you, but it stops an escalating chain of aggression that can go very badly.