You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well’ and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. (Matthew 5:38-41; see also Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:28,35).
Followers of Jesus overcome challenges to honor not through using the same currency of insult or violence that the outside world throws at them, but rather they meet hostility with generosity, violence with courageous refusal to use violence, curse with blessing from God’s inexhaustible resources of goodness and kindness.
Paul expands on the teaching of Jesus by urging the Christian to “Take thought for what is noble in the sight of all” (Romans 12:17) rather than repaying “evil for evil.’ One finds in Paul and I peter a deep concern to demonstrate to outsiders that being Christian is in fact honorable. On the one hand, Christians are never allowed to choose their course of action out of desire or need for the affirmation of the outside world. They are to remain focused on God’s approval and on the actions that lead them, regardless of the world’s response. On the other hand, however, there is the explicit hope articulated in the New Testament that by pursuing the course that God approves, the nobility of the Christian community will be made apparent to those outside the church. In reality when we turn the other cheek or go the extra mile we put on the character of Christ which is the most honorable thing we can do.